Uber is looking at the future with flying taxi cars. This ride-hailing service recently unveiled plans to develop and test flying cars by 2020 in partnership with plane manufacturers and a number of companies.
Aiming for the skies, Uber revealed during the Uber Elevate Summit held in Dallas last Tuesday that the company expects to deploy these flying taxis in Dubai and Dallas-Fort Worth by 2020. In fact, the company aims for the 2020 World Expo in Dubai to launch their Uber Elevate Network demonstration.
The flying taxis will be small, electric aircraft and will take off and land vertically (VTOLs) with zero emissions and minimal noise for city operations. Also, the ride-hailing company describes these as enabling "rapid reliable transport between suburbs and cities, and ultimately, within cities."
They expect that the flying taxis will be able to cut down travel time, such as between San Francisco's Marina to downtown San Jose in just 15 minutes. Also, the first to use the flying taxis will be those heavily congested urban areas not served by existing infrastructure. The goal was to "enable customers in the future to push a button and get a high-speed flight in and around cities," said Uber in a statement.
Although this technology is still unproven, the company expects a rate of $1.32/passenger mile, which is a bit higher compared with UberX for the same distance, as noted by Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden. But in the long term, the company expects the cost would go down, even below owning a car for daily commutes.
There a more than a dozen companies working with Uber in realizing flying taxis for the future. Among these are ChargePoint, vehicle charging station maker, who will develop the exclusive charger for the flying taxis, and Hillwood Properties to build four vertiports in Dallas beginning 2018. These are VTOL hubs that will have multiple takeoff and landing pads, including charging infrastructure.
There is also Aurora, Bell Helicopter, Pipistrel, Mooney, and Embraer to build Uber's flying taxis. Plus, Uber has partnered with the Government of Dubai.
Described as an "ambitious" vision, Uber believes that flying taxis are "achievable in the coming decade" so long as all key actors for the VTOL ecosystem collaborate effectively. The ride-hailing company hopes that their aircraft will be transporting customers by 2023.