LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Uber is partnering with United States Army researchers to develop new rotor technology for its proposed aviation rideshare network.

The development agreement between the U.S. Army Research Lab (ARL) and Uber was announced Tuesday at the second Uber Elevate Summit in Los Angeles.

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Under the deal, researchers will work to create the first system of usable stacked co-rotating rotors or propellers, which uses two rotor systems placed on top of each other and rotating in the same direction.


The rotors are significantly quieter than traditional paired rotor approaches and improve performance for a flying craft, according to researchers.

Such technology would be a first for existing flying craft, according to a joint statement from the U.S. Army and Uber.

Funding for the $1 million project will be divided equally between the two partners, officials said.

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The proposed rotor system would be the first to use stacked co-rotating rotors or propellers. (Screengrab via YouTube)

Dr. Jaret Riddick, director of the ARL’s Vehicle Technology Directorate, said the collaboration “supports the Army modernization priorities for future vertical lift aircraft.”

One of Uber’s newest aviation partners, Orange County-based Karem Aircraft, revealed mock-ups of its own vertical takeoff aircraft, or V-TOL, at the summit, complete with virtual reality simulations.

“This will allow you to simply soar over traffic like we’ve all dreamt about as a child,” Uber’s Nikhil Goel told CBS2 News Tuesday. “That’s when you should be able to pull out your app and see Uber Pool, UberX or Uber Air.

“Uber is proud to be partnering with ARL on critical research on flying vehicle innovations that will help create the world’s first urban aviation rideshare network,” said Eric Allison, Head of Uber Elevate. “Our first jointly-funded project will help us develop first of its kind rotor technology that will allow for quieter and more efficient travel. We see this initial project as the first of many and look forward to continued collaboration with the lab on innovations that will make uberAIR a reality.”

Los Angeles was named last year as one of Uber’s two U.S. Elevate cities – the other being Dallas-Fort Worth – with a goal of making the service commercially available to riders in both cities by 2023.

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Uber also signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA in 2017 allowing the two to work together on making aircraft that is safe, viable and able to fly at low altitudes.