In 1989 “Back to the Future II“ predicted flying cars would come to pass in the year 2015. That might have been optimistic, but we are getting closer. Working on a project called “Elevate“, Uber is serious about offering on-demand aviation to its customers. Suddenly a two-hour car ride San Francisco to San Jose is completed in 15 minutes.
Contentment instead of congestion
We all know the rush hour struggle: frustrated, tired people on their way to their job; traffic lights that seem to turn red as soon as you face them; incessant stop and go.
Uber is hoping to change all that with a low-altitude aircraft that is a cross between a drone and a helicopter, eradicating commuter frustration and revolutionising transport in the process.
Just imagine being able to get to and fro without the hassle of gridlocked traffic. Uber has hand-picked three cities - Dallas, Dubai and Los Angeles - to trial this technology with the first demonstration flights expected to take place in 2020.
A whole new world
How will it work? By selecting Uber Air, you book your trip just as usual in the Uber app.
After booking you will have to get to one of Uber’s “vertiports“. They are most likely to be located on top of already existing buildings, such as parking garages. The taxis will take off without needing a landing strip by employing VTOL – vertical take-off and landing.
You will then share one of Uber’s small planes with up to three other passengers. Uber promises the noise level to be lower than in usual helicopters and a smooth ride that guarantees maximum comfort.
As for price? According to Uber’s CPO Jeff Holden, the first trips will cost as much as a ride in the car equivalent, but the price will come down.
Ready for take-off?
The sky’s the limit for Uber on this one, but the juice powering these aircraft might be a problem. Uber is targeting electronic aerial vehicles but is 2020 overly optimistic? Well, as a sign of their intent, they’ve enlisted the help of NASA, a partner who has researched vertical take-off and landing in urban areas.
Great firms are able to move with the times and keep relentless innovation front and centre. Uber’s plans are a sure sign they’re not content to merely own the roads, but venture into the sky too. Time will tell whether the scheme is feasible, but there isn’t long to wait. 2020 looms large.
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