Following the announcement that Melbourne will be Uber's third official pilot city — alongside Dallas and Los Angeles as test cities for the Uber Air program — the ride sharing giant has revealed development partners to tackle the infrastructure and operations challenges.
“Related has been exploring, investing in, and implementing new forms of urban mobility from bike-share to self-driving vehicles – and urban aviation is the next frontier,” Related Companies chief executive Jeff Blau said.
“We're excited to work with Uber Elevate to bring new forms of mobility to our customers and communities.”
Related has an extensive portfolio in major cities across the world, including Hudson Yards, a state-of-the-art and newly unveiled development in Manhattan.
Uber plans to launch Uber Air in Dallas, Los Angeles and Melbourne first. If all goes as planned, it will hold flight demonstrations next year with the hopes of making aerial ride sharing commercially available in 2023.
The eVTOL (vertical takeoff and landing aircraft) — which would be booked through the Uber app — would initially be flown by a commercial pilot. However Uber envisages they would eventually become autonomous.
“We are thrilled to be working with Related to design skyports for Uber Air, a key part of taking Uber’s transportation platform to new heights,” Uber Elevate director Eric Allison said.
“Together we look forward to spurring innovation that can help improve urban mobility in cities around the world.”
Uber envisions its skyports as “mobility hubs”, connecting users of Uber Air to other types of Uber transport.
The skyport would be designed to charge up to five of Uber’s aerial rideshare aircraft at one time. It would also have a landing area and a take-off area so flights could land and leave at the same time.
The skyports will be built from pre-existing parking garages, these mobility hubs will include dedicated pickup and dropoff space for Uber drivers, access and charging areas for Uber bikes and scooters and even UberEats with café seating.
The skyport at Related’s Santa Clara development, designed by Foster + Partners, is envisioned along a major traffic artery.
The flight deck is designed to charge up to five eVTOL aircrafts at a single time. It will also have a dedicated landing area and dedicated take-off area, with enough separation to allow for simultaneous flight operations.
The companies haven’t offered a projected opening date for the Santa Clara skyport, saying that “locating a skyport in Santa Clara will be preceded by the necessary governmental collaboration, approvals and processes with an operational opening occurring in the future”.
Uber Elevate has also announced partnerships with Australian companies Macquarie, Telstra, Scentre Group as well as Melbourne Airport, as part of its Melbourne project.