Ride-sharing giant Uber held its second annual Elevate Summit in Los Angeles earlier this month and the hot topic was "Uber Air", its vision for a flying taxi service.
Uber revealed six top finalist designs for their Uber Air skyports that it plans to make available to passengers by 2028.
The skyports are intended for popular city locations and will act as both airports and recharging stations for the Uber Air eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft.
Uber Air forms part of the ride-sharing apps' goal to see cars replaced with electric aircrafts, or “flying taxis,” capable of taking off and landing vertically as a quicker and more environmentally friendly way to travel.
The designs needed to support more than 4000 passengers per hour and fit within three acres.
Connect: Corgan’s Mega Skyport
Scale and versatility are key components of Corgan’s conceptual design Connect.
Connect provides the infrastructure to allow vertical take-off and landing for up to 1,000 Uber eVTOLs per hour.
The basic component of Connect’s system is the single module, designed for set up in any location, they are adaptable for community open spaces, such as concerts or festivals to a roof-top.
As eVTOL flight matures modules can be stacked for maximum vertical clearance.
PAW by Gannett Fleming
The Paw design takes inspiration from nature and integrates with existing infrastructure.
“Our SKYPORT, which builds upon the PAW’s modular configuration, provides the integral connection between passengers and the urban mobility of tomorrow,” Gannett Fleming principal architect Ted Osborne said.
Gannett Fleming’s skyport concept is a free-standing transportation hub that supports a quad PAW configuration to support 200 flights per hour, and within a footprint of less than 1.3 acres.
By 2028, it’s estimated to facilitate 600 arrivals and departures per hour, moving 4000 people every 60 minutes.
Robots are used to rotate the aircraft for better take-off positions. The design also incorporates sustainability features such as solar power, transparent concrete to allow solar recharging and sound walls to minimise noise.
Uber Sky Tower by Pickard Chilton and Arup
The submission from Pickard Chilton and Arup takes a vertical form to increase the efficiency of take-offs and landings.
Dubbed the “Sky Tower,” the concept aims to facilitate at least 1000 vehicle arrivals and 1000 departures per hour, with each vehicle accommodating up to five passengers.
Each module is able to be applied either vertically or horizontally depending on the need in the area.
Humphreys & Partners: Skyport and Mega Skyport
Humphreys & Partners’ design has been modelled after a beehive, intending to replicate the flight paths that bees take from their hive.
A larger scale design was also submitted, the mega skyport, which would feature the ability to land 2,500 aircrafts per hour and 10,000 landings per hour.
The green design will also feature rainwater collection, grey water recycling, solar power and Tesla power packs and the option to integrate with Elon Musk's SpaceX hyperloop.
The Hive by The Beck Group
The concept by The Beck Group is actually named ‘The Hive’ taking a similar tone to the proposal from Humphreys & Partners.
“eVTOLS much like bees, will fly away from the Hive and return in a never ending cycle of activity,” Beck say in their design.
It can facilitate 168 take-offs and landings per hour and has the ability to be scaled up to handle up to 1100 trips per hour.
“Skyport will be scalable, a key factor, as this type of transportation grows in popularity among Uber’s ever-mobile clientele,” The Beck Group principal Michael Kaiser said.
BOKA Powell’s Skyport concept takes inspiration from “the dynamics of flight.”
Their design can accommodate up to 1000 take-offs and landings per hour, accommodating 2000- 4000 passengers hourly. It has a reversible design that can alter itself to account for changes in wind.
“The real key to this solution is the mechanical precision and syncopated rhythm of handling both the aircraft and the customers. By solving these complex processes, the spirit and wonder of future aviation dreams are possible,” BOKA Powell principal Andrew Bennett said.
Related Reading: Uber Plans Flying Taxi-Service by 2023
Uber Air hopes to hit speeds of up to 320 kilometres an hour and will be able to transport passengers up to 100 kilometres per charge. Demonstration flights are projected to begin in 2020 with Uber Air set to become commercially available in 2023.