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Uber partnering with US army on flying car technology

Ride-hailing giant will work with Army Research Lab to develop next-generation rotor technology

Uber is partnering with the US Army on developing rotor technology, the ride-hailing giant’s latest effort to work with the US government on flying vehicles.

The company and the US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command announced that they had signed on to a development and testing partnership in an effort to hone next-generation rotor technology that would be quieter and more efficient.

They intend to spend a combined $1 million on the push, the US Army said, and will work to develop and test “vehicles used in Uber’s proposed urban aviation rideshare network”.

In addition to helping Uber advance its plans for an urban aerial transportation network, the Army said the sophisticated rotor technology would help craft a new generation of unmanned aerial vehicles, a term used to refer to drones.

“This supports the Army modernization priorities for future vertical lift aircraft”, Dr Jaret Riddick, head of the army research lab’s vehicle technology directorate, said in a statement.

Plans to launch a fleet of airborne vehicles known as UberAir have been in the works for some time, and Uber executives reiterated their intention to get the service up and running during the company’s Uber Elevate summit.

“We think cities are going to go vertical in terms of transportation and we want to make that a reality. So we think that you can actually build these vehicles that are going to carry four people,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CBS.

As it works towards that goal, Uber has enlisted the government’s help. It announced last year that it had reached an agreement with Nasa to develop traffic systems for low-flying flights, and hired away multiple agency veterans. Nasa emphasised at the time that it was not explicitly working on developing flying cars or software for Uber, with a spokesman saying the agency could marshal its expertise “to open this new market safety and efficiently”.

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