NASA Working with Uber on Airspace Tests

Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, said urban air mobility "could revolutionize the way people and cargo move in our cities and fundamentally change our lifestyle, much like smartphones have."

NASA has recently signed a second space act agreement with Uber Technologies, Inc. They'll work together on concepts and technologies related to urban air mobility in order to ensure a safe, efficient system for future air transportation in populated areas.

The federal agency's announcement said Uber as part of the agreement will share its plans for implementing an urban aviation rideshare network. NASA will use the latest in airspace management computer modeling and simulation to assess the impacts of small aircraft, from delivery drones to passenger aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capability, in crowded environments. It is NASA's first such agreement specifically focused on modeling and simulation for urban air mobility operations; the NASA definition of "urban air mobility" is a safe and efficient system for vehicles, piloted or not, to move passengers and cargo within a city.

"NASA is excited to be partnering with Uber and others in the community to identify the key challenges facing the UAM market and explore necessary research, development, and testing requirements to address those challenges," said Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. "Urban air mobility could revolutionize the way people and cargo move in our cities and fundamentally change our lifestyle, much like smartphones have."

The announcement said NASA will use data from Uber at NASA's research facility at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to simulate a small passenger-carrying aircraft as it flies through DFW airspace during peak scheduled air traffic. "Analysis of these simulations will identify safety issues as these new aircraft take to the air in an already crowded air traffic control system," it said.

"The new space act agreement broadening Uber's partnership with NASA is exciting because it allows us to combine Uber's massive-scale engineering expertise with NASA's decades of subject matter experience across multiple domains that are key to enabling urban air mobility, starting with airspace systems," said Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer.

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