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Meet George Jetson: Uber sees flying commuters in 10 years

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Flying commuters like George Jetson could be whizzing to work through the sky less than 10 years from now, according to ride-services provider Uber, which believes the future of transportation is literally looking up.

Uber Technologies Inc released a white paper on Thursday envisioning a future in which commuters hop onto a small aircraft, take off vertically and within minutes arrive at their destinations. The flyers would eventually be unmanned, according to the company.

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It sounds like the opening sequence to “The Jetsons”, the 1962 U.S. cartoon about a future filled with moving sidewalks, robot housekeepers and spaceflight, but Uber sees flying rides as feasible and eventually affordable.

Uber already offers helicopter rides to commuters in Brazil. The company plans to convene a global summit early next year to explore on-demand aviation, in which small electric aircraft could take off and land vertically to reduce congestion and save time for long-distance commuters, and eventually city dwellers.

Others have also envisioned such aircraft, akin to a helicopter but without the noise and emissions. Vertical take off and landing aircraft (VTOL) have been studied and developed for decades, including by aircraft makers, the military, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Uber is already exploring self-driving technology, hoping to slash costs by eliminating the need for drivers in its core business of on-demand rides. On-demand air transport marks a new frontier, set squarely in the future.

Uber’s vision, detailed in a 97-page document, argues that on-demand aviation will be affordable and achievable in the next decade assuming effective collaboration between regulators, communities and manufacturers.

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Ultimately, using VTOLs for transport could be less expensive than owning a car, Uber predicted.

Such on-demand VTOL aircraft would be “optionally piloted,” Uber said, where autonomous technology takes over the main workload and the pilot is relied on for situational awareness. Eventually, the aircraft will likely be fully automated, Uber said.

Hurdles include battery technology. Batteries must come down in cost and charge faster, become more powerful and have longer lifecycles.

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Regulatory hurdles must also be solved such as certification by aviation regulators as well as infrastructure needs, such as more takeoff and landing cites.

Uber plans to reach out to stakeholders within the next six months to explore the implications of urban air transport and share ideas before hosting a summit in early 2017 to explore the issues and solutions and help accelerate urban air transportation.

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(Reporting By Alexandria Sage; Editing by David Gregorio)


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Trump is already making up conspiracy theories about voter fraud — and it’ll only get worse

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The election is eight months away, but President Donald Trump is already crying foul.

Bloomberg News wrote Sunday that Trump is already working to undermine the American electoral process by attacking the Democratic presidential primary.

"Indeed, his campaign, with the full support of the Republican Party, is already waging a vigorous crusade to destroy his opposition. No, it's not Joe Biden, who inspired Trump's shakedown of Ukraine. Trump's gunning for bigger game: democracy itself," wrote Francis Wilkinson for Bloomberg.

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READ IT: More than 1,100 former US Department of Justice officials tell Bill Barr to resign now

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More than 1,100 former US Department of Justice officials called on Attorney General William P. Barr on Sunday to step down after he intervened last week to lower the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for President Trump’s longtime friend and political crony Roger J. Stone Jr.

“It is unheard of for the Department’s top leaders to overrule line prosecutors, who are following established policies, in order to give preferential treatment to a close associate of the President, as Attorney General Barr did in the Stone case,” wrote the former Justice Department attorneys in their Sunday letter. “It is even more outrageous for the Attorney General to intervene as he did here — after the President publicly condemned the sentencing recommendation that line prosecutors had already filed in court.”

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Trump campaign forced to delete #Daytona500 Air Force One photo because it was from 15 years ago

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Air Force One in flight.

Another oops moment happened for President Donald Trump's campaign manager stole George W. Bush's photo from the Daytona 500 in 2004.

Tweeting Sunday, Brad Parscale proclaimed, "[email protected] won the #Daytona500 before the race even started."

Except, it wasn't him. As many people pointed out, the image was from 16 years ago by photographer Jonathan Ferrey, CNN reported. Parscale was forced to delete it and tweet it out again with an underwhelming photo.

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