Ridesharing giant Uber is on the search for an international city to become a launching pad for its urban aerial ridesharing, or “flying taxi” service with plans to take-off by 2023.
Uber’s ambitious plans for its air taxi, after partnering with NASA to ensure the aerial service is twice as safe as cars, hopes to alleviate urban congestion.
Uber unveiled its latest flying car prototype at the Uber Elevate Summit in Los Angeles discussing the future of its flying service.
A model of Uber’s electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle concept (eVTOL), a cross between a helicopter and a drone, is an update to its first concept developed with NASA last year.
The service will be known as UberAIR, and will see the company partner with three “launch cities” to bring the service to market.
According to Uber’s whitepaper, the VTOLs were designed to emulate today’s helicopters, with maneuverability in mind so passengers and pilots can access a variety of locations and flight paths.
“On-demand aviation has the potential to radically improve urban mobility,” the whitepaper stated.
“VTOL aircraft will make use of electric propulsion so they have zero operational emissions and will likely be quiet enough to operate in cities without disturbing the neighbours.
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The company says VTOL will use autonomy technology to reduce operator error and will be an affordable form of daily transportation, “even less expensive than owning a car.”
A third “launch city” is currently being scouted. Last year, Uber named Dallas and Los Angeles as its first launch cities and is now searching for the third.
Uber says it will consider cities with a population of more than two million, with dispersed population hubs and an airport at least an hour away from the city centre.
“This opportunity is open to any city outside the US where there is a desire for a dramatic improvement in transportation and conditions are conducive to urban air mobility,” the company stated.
These three cities will be the first to offer UberAIR flights, with the goal of operating demonstrator flights starting in 2020 and commercial operations in 2023.
Uber plans to discuss UberAIR with the governments of viable cities after July 1, 2018.
Speaking at the Uber Elevate summit in Los Angeles last week, chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi says Uber plans to put self-driving cars back on the road “within the next few months.”
This comes after tests were suspended after one of its vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona earlier this year.