Uber Sets Its Sights Skyward: For Uber devotees around the world, the announcement of their urban “air taxi” service testing by 2020 at the recent Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas, Texas came as very welcomed news.
Late last year, Uber began talking about its “Elevate” program – a discussion about adding flying cars to its services in the not-so-distant future. Now, it appears that future timeline has been further defined, as Uber appears to be most serious about creating a viable air taxi service within three short years and having it in service as soon as 2023.
It has tasked aviation giants, Bell Helicopters, Aurora Flight Sciences, Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer, and Mooney with the mammoth job of designing and building an affordable, four-passenger, all-electric vehicle that is easy and safe to fly. Plus, it would be environmentally friendly.
Though the vehicle Uber envisions would be more like a cousin to the helicopter because of its vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, it would be far quieter and agile for manoeuvring in congested city airspace. It could operate in and out of small municipal skyports – or vertiports – built aloft office buildings and shopping centres.
Uber is still in the early stages of planning so details like costs, wait times and participating cities have not been decided. Uber’s chief product officer, Jeff Holden surmises the rate per mile would be comparable to that of an Uber car ride per passenger.
Dallas-Fort Worth is slated to be the first test city in 2020 for the UberAIR vehicle, and it will be showcased prominently at the World Expo in Dubai later that same year. Fort Worth has a talented supply of military pilots stationed there, in addition to an abundance of pilots with Southwest Airlines and American Airlines. There would be no shortage of aviators willing to operator these new aircraft.
So the next time you’re in your vehicle, stuck in an awful traffic jam and thinking, “I wish my car had wings,” think about this plan from Uber instead. “Urban aviation” has a very exciting ring to it… That’s how Uber refers this new sector and touts the time-saving benefits for intercity commuters as a huge incentive for adoption of this service.
Uber Sets Its Sights Skyward: For more updates on Uber’s progress and other operational topics, frequent UAS Blog – for local information, globally.