When Uber first introduced the concept of ride-hailing, the company single-handedly led a revolution in the transportation industry—one that is still ongoing. Now, the company is poised to launch another innovation. This comes in the form of their vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) flying car.
Yes, it’s a flying car, and it’s one that is custom designed for passenger pickups.
Ultimately, the concept is anchored on Uber’s longstanding ride-sharing concept, which they are now hoping to move forward into the next stage of development by taking it to the skies. So really, it’s more than a flying car; it’s a flying taxi.
This development means that, in the future, commuters will be able to access a network of small, electric VTOL aircrafts that can provide fast and reliable flying transportation. We have long known that the project was in the works, but now, Reuters reports that Uber has finally picked the first cities that will benefit from the service.
The company is set to deploy their flying taxis first in Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai, and they assert that they will do so by 2020.
The fleet of VTOL aircraft has been dubbed Uber Elevate, and will be manufactured in partnership with Aurora Flight Science, Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer, Mooney, and Bell Helicopter. The UberAir app will then be used to book trips, which Uber believes will prove to be more cost-effective and efficient.
A New Era of Transportation
The world’s fascination with making flying cars is driven by a lot more than our desire to bring science fiction to life. Traffic, especially in urban areas, has been a perennial problem that we have yet to address, and shifting to airborne vehicles to help shuttle commuters could be the answer.
Of course, Uber isn’t alone in the race to build a flying car. A German startup called E-volo also believes VTOL aircraft could be the future of transportation, and is planning to test a flying taxi service with their prototype as early as next year. And Airbus, a company best known for building airplanes, is planning to create a helicopter-style autonomous vehicle capable of shuttling several riders at once.
Not only do these novel transportation options provide a solution to traffic congestion, they also help ensure that transportation options are more sustainable, as these VTOLs are designed to run on electric propulsion systems with no operational emissions.
Transportation experts believe that we are no more than 10 to 15 years away from having fully operational, autonomous flying taxis. And at the rate Uber and other companies are going, it looks like their predictions are right.