NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Coming In 2020, Uber's Flying Vehicles Aim To Be Affordable, 'Everyday Transportation'

Uber Technologies, Inc.

Last month, Uber announced its plans to have flying cars ready for demonstration in North Texas by 2020. Dallas and Fort Worth were selected as the company's first U.S. partner cities in the endeavor.

Mark Moore, who directs aviation engineering for Uber, explains just how the company plans to turn the flying cars of science fiction into a reality.

On why Uber is building a flying car: "Well, we don't call them flying cars, actually these are vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that are using brand new technology called 'distributed electric propulsion' as well as autonomy technologies. So, they're not quite what people are probably envisioning when they think of flying cars."

On what's under the hood: "So most of them are taking advantage of this new technology called 'distributed electric propulsion,' so instead of having one big rotor on top like a helicopter, they'll have many smaller propellers that are able to provide redundancy; so you never have a single part that could fail and cause the aircraft to not be able to fly.

"So, they're built inherently to be very very reliable and safe, but they do look very different than any other aircraft you've seen. If you go to Aurora Flight Science's website, you can get an idea of what one of them looks like or Joby Aviation." 

On the affordability of the service: "Uber would have no interest in doing this just for the elite. This is about everyday transportation. And I know it sounds like it's a stretch of the imagination to be affordable, but this really is taking advantage of some great new technologies that lets these aircraft be really fast and productive. And when you combine that with the Uber business model and our pooling technology; we can get these trips down to the cost of UberX or close to that in the near future."

Watch video from the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.