Uber partners with University of Texas and US Army

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Uber has partnered with researchers from the University of Texas and the U.S. Army Research Labs to help develop new rotor technology for its UberAIR’s air taxis.

Just last year, Uber revealed that Dallas and Los Angeles were to be the first US cities to host the UberAIR service. It expects flight demonstrations to start in the cities by 2020 to be followed by a commercial launch by 2023.

Uber has already brought Aurora Flight Sciences, Pipistrel, Karem, Embraer and Bell on-board to develop aircraft for the service. Uber has specified that all aircraft on its service should have a cruising speed of 150-200mph, a cruising altitude of 1,000-2,000 feet, 60-minutes of flight and be battery powered.

One of the researchers working with Uber is Jaynet Sirohi, associate professor at the University of Texas and an expert in UAV and VTOL technology said: “UT is uniquely positioned to contribute to this new technology, and Uber has recognized that. In addition to the technical expertise we bring to this area, we also already have a rig to test new rotor configurations right here on campus.”

The university’s first port of call will be researching the efficiency and noise levels of stacked co-rotating propellers for use on Uber VTOLs as opposed to a more-common contra-rotating design.

Beating congestion

Uber chose Texas and Los Angeles as its US testing grounds due to the large amount of congestion both cities face.

The University of Texas gave the example that the hour-long drive from DFW international to the neighbouring city of Frisco would take only 10 minutes via air taxi. Los Angeles consistently tops lists for the most-congested US city.

Initially, Uber was planning its third launch city to be Dubai. However, the company has recently removed any mention of Dubai from its recent announcements and press materials but has not mentioned the agreement with Dubai was off.

Uber has since put out a call for the “first international launch city” on its website, inviting a third city to partner with it alongside Dallas and Los Angeles. It has no mention of its previous agreement with Dubai. There has been no official announcement dropping Dubai as its previous “first international city”.