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TIN news:  Embraer will team with Uber Elevate to explore the development of small vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (VTOLs), the Brazilian manufacturer said.

Announced as a preliminary partnership between San Francisco-based multi-platform transportation company Uber and Embraer’s Business Innovation Center, the project will develop the Uber Elevate Network, described as an “ecosystem that will allow the potential development and deployment of small electric [VTOLS] for short urban commutes.”

The partnership with Uber was announced at the start of Uber’s Elevate Summit in Dallas, Texas.

Embraer’s Melbourne, Florida-based Business Innovation Center opened in March as an entity designed to promote “disruptive” air transportation innovations and “explore business opportunities in the future of air transportation, with the collaborations of startups, investors, academia and corporations.” The center has additional outposts in California’s Silicon Valley and Boston, Massachusetts.

“We firmly believe we need to explore several new business concepts that may impact air transportation in the future,” Embraer CEO Paulo Cesar Silva said. “On exercising this partnership, we will be developing new technologies, new products and new business models which could generate opportunities for Embraer in the future.”

Uber outlined its vision for the potential of autonomous flying cars in a white paper released in November 2016.

“On-demand aviation has the potential to radically improve urban mobility, giving people back time lost in their daily commutes. … just as skyscrapers allowed cities to use limited land more efficiently, urban air transportation will use three-dimensional airspace to alleviate transportation congestion on the ground,” Uber said. “A network of small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically … will enable rapid, reliable transportation between suburbs and cities and, ultimately, within cities.”

“We share the vision that the state of transportation in congested cities is ripe for innovative solutions, such as on-demand aviation,” Embraer VP-corporate innovation Antonio Campello said. “We are confident that our DNA will add value to new concepts in urban transportation.”

“[Embraer’s] knowledge of certifying fly-by-wire aircraft and their confidence that they can similarly bring fly-by-wire technology affordably to these much smaller [VTOL] aircraft is an essential ingredient [to this partnership],” Uber director of engineering for aviation Mark Moore said.

 

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