Uber Wants to Develop Flying Taxis by 2020

The ride-hailing company Uber says it has signed a deal with the U.S. space agency NASA to develop a fleet of flying vertical takeoff and landing taxis by the end of the decade.

The company said Wednesday it hopes to have its first paying passenger in the new flying vehicles by 2023, though it still faces several obstacles.

Uber’s Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden says he hopes the service will reduce commute times, cut vehicle pollution in major cities and, eventually, the service will be cheaper than if a person were to drive their own car. Though, he said it will be initially more expensive.

According to a forecast from Uber, a current trip between San Francisco and San Jose at rush hour would take two hours and cost around $111. The same route, by air, would take just 15 minutes.

Initially, the route would cost customers $129, but Uber says the price would drop to just $43 in the near term and $20 over the long term.

Uber has teamed up with NASA to help it deal with some of the logistical issues that accompany a new technology.

Those challenges include receiving certification from authorities for the new vehicles and coming up with a system to avoid mid-air collisions in urban areas.

“The space act that we signed with NASA is initially about collaboration around air traffic management,” Holden told NBC News.

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