The Army is joining forces with Uber to build out technology that could help get the next generation of military helicopters and a proposed fleet of flying taxis off the ground.
The rideshare company and Army Research Lab announced Tuesday they would collaborate on research exploring rotor technology that would make aircraft quieter and more efficient. The partnership would support both the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program and Uber Elevate, the company’s proposed “urban air transportation” network.
The two groups agreed to each invest $500,000 in the initial effort. The deal also leaves the door open for future research partnerships.
The research would primarily focus on developing a first-of-its-kind stacked, co-rotating propeller system, which would essentially be two propellers build on top of each other spinning in the same direction. Unlike current stacked propellers, which rotate in opposite directions, the new system would make flying significantly quieter and more conducive for stealth or urban flights.
In addition to research, ARL will also help develop and test aircraft for the Uber Elevate program.
Uber plans to conduct its first flight demonstrations in 2020 and have the service commercially available in Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles by 2023.
Uber revealed its latest “flying car” concept at its second annual Elevate conference in Los Angeles.
The images show stacked co-rotating rotors or propellers have two rotor systems placed on top of each other rotating in the same direction.
Uber plans flying cars
* flying at an elevation of 1,000 to 2,000 feet.
* thousands of its flying taxis shuttling passengers between rooftop “skyports” and landing sites in cities
* skyports would each handle 200 takeoffs and landings every hour
* Uber flying taxis will be piloted by humans at first and eventually will fly autonomously.