Uber and NASA are collaborating to simulate the future of eVTOL ridesharing services.

According to NASA, the end goal of the collaboration with Uber is a safe and efficient air transportation system where everything from small package-delivery drones to passenger-carrying air taxis operate over populated areas – from small towns to the largest cities.

Concept art of urban air transport

Credit // NASA

Researchers at NASA’s Ames and Langley Research Centers are developing technologies for UAM airspace management to make large-scale operations possible. Researchers at Ames have already studied, designed and tested technologies that could soon be used for drone airspace management, even in complex urban landscapes.

In this partnership, Uber is sharing its plans for implementing an aerial mobility eVTOL rideshare network. NASA meanwhile, as America’s aeronautics research agency, is using the latest in airspace management computer modeling and data collection to assess the impacts of small aircraft in crowded environments, and begin designing management systems.

Related: Uber Air Stands Up First Flying Taxi Test Site

A series of collaborative meetings between NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s Air Traffic and NextGen organizations, and Uber, are currently ongoing at NASA Ames Research Center. The focus of these meetings is to discuss near- and mid-term UAM procedures and identify top priorities in development and regulation. In fact, the Air Traffic Management Exploration (ATM-X) project’s Increasing Diverse Operations (IDO) subproject recently led a discussion on long term research needs for new entrants into the National Airspace System (NAS).

Savita Verma demonstrates X2 to FAA and Uber visitors in the UAM lab.

Demonstration of X2 to FAA and Uber visitors. Credit // NASA

An engineering evaluation called “X2” saw the NASA Air Traffic Management Exploration (ATM-X) Urban Air Mobility (UAM) team collaborate with Uber Elevate to run a complete simulation of eVTOL flights over Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. The NASA team demonstrated the X2 simulation’s use cases such as a live connection to Uber’s simulation facilities and virtual flights. The series of 40-minute test scenarios was reported to be a success, and further simulations are already being planned..

Why it’s important: Simulating eVTOL air traffic over Dallas is a key part of beginning Uber’s aerial ridesharing services planned to begin as early as 2023. Through sophisticated simulations, Uber and NASA will allow involved parties to understand and successfully plan the management of airspace. Uber plans to conduct demonstration flights in Dallas in 2020.

Source // NASA, Uber

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Posted by George Gatsios

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