Airbus and Uber plan on-demand copter rides

Image: Airbus H130 helicopter
Airbus says its H130 copters will be on duty for the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. (Credit: Airbus)

Independent films aren’t the only things that’ll be previewed at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah this week: Airbus Group and Uber Technologies are launching a pilot project that offers on-demand helicopter rides to the show.

But if the project gets picked up for further development, it may require some tweaks to Uber’s standard rideshare model.

Airbus Group’s CEO, Tom Enders, provided a teaser over the weekend at the Digital Life Design conference in Munich, Germany. “It’s a pilot project, we’ll see how it goes — but it’s pretty exciting,” he told The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal quoted an Airbus spokesman as saying that the flights will be provided by Airbus’ H125 and H130 helicopters, in partnership with a Utah-based helicopter operator named Air Resources. Uber would dispatch cars to pick up clients for the rides at Sundance.

Uber has been testing an on-demand helicopter service called UberChopper for about three years, primarily for vacationers or for special events where traffic gets tangled.

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Airbus Ventures backs 3-D printing and design

Image: Local Motors LM3D Swim
Local Motors is working on a 3D-printed car called the LM3D Swim. (Credit: Local Motors)

Airbus Ventures, the European aerospace giant’s Silicon Valley spin-off, says the first investment from its $150 million venture fund is going to Local Motors, a Phoenix-based company that aims to sell 3D-printed cars based on open-source designs.

“Not since the space race has there been a bigger opportunity for aerospace innovation,” Tim Dombrowski, managing general partner of Airbus Ventures, wrote in Friday’s announcement on Medium’s website.

The $150 million fund, Airbus Group Venture Fund I, will take advantage of opportunities to “accelerate innovation in near ground, air and space flight,” Dombrowski wrote.

He acknowledged that Local Motors “may seem like a surprising investment” for Airbus but argued that the deal was a “perfect fit.”

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