It appears that flying cars will no longer be experienced solely by the Jetsons. That is, if Uber pushes through with the plan. During the early part of the week, Jeff Holden, who is the Chief Product Officer of Uber, disclosed that the company is planning to shake up the taxi industry with the introduction of the flying taxi. Announced during the Uber Elevate Summit held in Dallas, the goal is to make all this possible before the end of this decade.
Holden said that the company plans to release this project by 2020 at both Dubai and Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas. While not exactly cars in a general sense, these flying taxis are in fact small electric aircraft that can take off vertically and land vertically as well. Meaning they can be considered as VTOL, which stands for vertical take-off and landing. Since it is powered by electricity, then there is the expectation that it will have no emissions. Further, they are projected to be quiet enough in order to be operated in urban areas.
As if to heighten the excitement even more, Uber said that the price will only be a bit expensive compared to UberX. In terms of figures, the company estimates that a mile may cost somewhere in the area of $1.32. However Uber believes that the price will likely go down over the long run and could become cheaper than actually owning a car.
For some people that may be rather pricey, but think about the travel time. Using public land transportation for instance, travelling from the Marina in San Francisco to the downtown area of San Jose would take at least around 2 hours. With Uber’s flying taxi, initial estimates show that would only take around 15 minutes.
To make this plan possible, Uber said it will need to partner with a number of different companies. Uber for instance wants to tie-up with Hillwood Properties in order to build four “vertiports.” These “vertiports,” also known as VTOL hubs, will allow for multiple landing and takeoff and will even enable charging. For the actual charging, Uber said it will work with ChargePoint to come out with an exclusive charger. The actual flying taxis meanwhile will be developed with the help of Aurora, Bell Helicopter, Embraer, Mooney, and Pipistrel.
Further, the company has entered into a partnership with the government of Dubai to conduct the first passenger flights during the Dubai World Expo in 2020.
This project appears to be a good way to make people excited again about the company as the company has recently been facing a number of bumps. These include allegations of sexual harassment and CEO Travis Kalanick angrily telling off an Uber driver. The latest issue Uber is facing is the fight against Google’s Waymo over self-driving cars.