Uber has set out plans to launch a flying taxi service by 2023. The announcement came at a company conference in Los Angeles this week (Financial Times, may be behind paywall).
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The company plans to produce thousands of short-range, electric-powered aircraft, which it says will be piloted by humans at first, but eventually fly autonomously (The Verge). And it’s partnering with NASA to create a new air traffic control system (Financial Times).
The taxi and food-delivery company also announced it’s re-opening a contest to find an international city in which to launch one of its flying cab services, after delays in Dubai. At last year’s annual company conference, Uber said Dallas and Los Angeles would be its first launch cities in the United States.
According to The Financial Times, some industry members believe Uber’s ride-sharing-in-the-skies plan is just a way of boosting its potential stock valuation – an Uber IPO is possible in 2019 (NASDAQ) – or a way of distracting from poor PR (Bloomberg) over the past year and a half.
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At least 19 companies have plans for flying cars, including Boeing, Airbus, and Kitty Hawk, owned by Google co-founder Larry Page (The Verge).