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Embraer just debuted its Uber Elevate flying taxi concept

Uber’s vision from its white paper

Uber Elevate unveiled on Tuesday what it wants its flying taxis to look that could be buzzing around Dallas-Fort Worth skies in a few years as part of the UberAIR service.

Uber was scheduled to meet with USA transportation and safety officials this week at its second annual Elevate Summit. While Uber isn't building these vertical takeoff and landing vehicles itself, the company is striking partnerships with manufacturers, battery companies and others that, together with Uber's ride-hailing network, could make it possible to summon a flying taxi via the Uber app.

The drone-like prototypes - called the Common Reference Model by Uber - have four rotors on wings, which company officials said would make the aircraft safer than helicopters that fly using one rotor.

Known as eCRM-003, the latest concept showcases technology being considered by Uber and developed by partner companies. Flying cars give Uber an opportunity to plan optimistically for the future, while its other foray into futuristic vehicles faces significant challenges.

"These vehicles will actually start out as piloted", Goel said, referring to Uber's plans for flying taxis, adding they would only be used after close coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration and after a thorough safety review.

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Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer, kicked off the second annual summit Tuesday morning. At higher altitudes (1,000-2,000 feet) a propeller in the back of the craft takes over, allowing it to fly like an airplane-which is faster and more energy efficient than staying in helicopter mode. Uber also said for the program to become profitable it will need to move beyond a niche market.

"Ambition is what has created this company from the very beginning", Khosrowshahi said.

"What I'm doing is a top-to-bottom audit of our procedures, training, software, hardware, what our practices are", Khosrowshahi said.

As small aircraft enter the marketplace, NASA wants to ensure they do so safely, with acceptable levels of noise, and without burdening the current national air traffic control system.

Eric Allison, the company's head of aviation program, showed a chart indicating that UberAir could conceivably charge $90 for a 29-minute ride between locations that would cost $60 and take 69 minutes using the UberX auto service instead.

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