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Published on November 1st, 2019 | by Nicolas Zart


NASA & Uber Working On Our Urban Air Mobility Future

November 1st, 2019 by  

NASA and Uber are working to tackle the future of our urban air mobility (UAM) needs. The focus is on the future for city transport for both people and packages transported by air.

NBAA-BACE 2019 UAM Safran Uber Elevate Display. Photo: Nicolas Zart

Making UAM safe and efficient is on everyone’s mind, as we covered at the NBAA-BACE event last week. Urban air transportation system models are popping up everywhere, from Boeing to Airbus. We wrote a brief article on the importance of unmanned and manned air traffic management (ATM) that takes into consideration everything from small package-delivery drones to passenger-carrying air taxis, all the way up to unforeseen.

The NASA research from its Ames and Langley Research Centers is also looking into technologies for UAM airspace management. The agency is pooling its research to continue studying, designing, and testing tools and technologies to manage future airspace. Specifically, it’s partnering with Uber on Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) by sharing its plans to implement a safe and efficient urban aviation rideshare network. Both Uber and NASA are sharing their respective rideshare data and airspace management computer modeling to assess the impacts of small aircraft in crowded environments.

The NASA and Uber teams are connecting their systems to run through different scenarios to help UAM operators. One of them will focus on coordinating the scheduling of different flights before takeoff, for example, while another will work on coordinating different elements of an emergency landing situation, as another example. What’s interesting or unnerving for the general public is that the tests are simulated without pilots, aircraft, or air traffic controllers.

These simulations will test UTM interoperability. One example NASA uses is how the Agency and Uber found it necessary to communicate specific times when air services intersect. They are working on how much buffer around those times is needed to allow for unexpected events during flight and to ensure safety.

NASA Taps Uber for Future Flight Plans

This is a good example of a government entity working with a private company to pool resources. NASA says it will collaborate with other partners as well to ensure an overall encompassing airspace operations.

You can check out NASA’s UAM Grand Challenge for more.

In light of recent aviation disasters, I thought this would be a good idea to show how private and public entities can work together to solve what one or the other alone cannot. 


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About the Author

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Ever since he has produced green mobility content on various CleanTech outlets since 2007 and found his home on CleanTechnica. He grew up in an international environment and his communication passion led to cover electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. His favorite taglines are: "There are more solutions than obstacles." and "Yesterday's Future Now"

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