Uber announced at the Uber Elevate Summit that it is planning to demonstrate a network of flying cars in Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai by 2020.
Similar to how Uber dispatches drivers and their cars, the company will not be manufacturing the flying cars, which will be vertical take-off and landing, or VTOL, vehicles. Rather, it will lead the formation of the network that will utilize them as a transportation option.
Uber Elevate Details Unfold
Uber first outlines its vision of a network of flying cars in a white paper last fall. The company then hired Mark Moore, a NASA aircraft engineer, to work on the Uber Elevate initiative.
"I can't think of another company in a stronger position to be the leader for this new ecosystem and make the urban electric VTOL market real," Moore said.
Uber's announcement of a 2020 demonstration goal has now largely increased the possibility that VTOL vehicles will soon be used for commercial transportation. To achieve the feat, the company has established partnerships with well-known aeronautics firms and emerging VTOL companies.
The manufacturing partners for Uber Elevate include Aurora Flight Sciences, Embraer, Bell Helicopter, Mooney, and Pipistrel Aircraft. Uber has also started talks with NASA and the National Air Traffic Control Association for issues on airspace management.
Uber has also started working with the Dubai Road and Transport Authority, which has provided necessary funds to study the routes that the VTOL vehicles will take in the city and how much the service will charge.
Startup ChargePoint, meanwhile, has been tapped to develop the infrastructure that the flying cars network will utilize, including the special chargers that the VTOL vehicles will use.
The Advantages Of Uber Elevate
The Uber Elevate project will provide an alternative means of transportation for customers who might be looking to bypass congested roads.
The VTOL vehicles, true to their name, will be capable of landing and taking off vertically, which means that there will be no need for a runway to get them in flight. Once customers enter a VTOL vehicle, they will be transported to their destination without having to experience the heavy traffic that characterize most major thoroughfares.
The on-demand airborne ride-hailing service will be able to cut 30-minute trips on land to just around five minutes, saving customers a lot of time from their daily commute.
The electric VTOL vehicles will also be more environment-friendly compared to gasoline-powered counterparts. The ability for rapid battery charging would be crucial to allow the flying cars to accommodate as many customers as possible, and it is up to ChargePoint to design, develop, and manufacture the necessary technology.
Uber Flying Cars By 2020: Possible?
Uber's plan is to demonstrate its network of flying cars at the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, and in Dallas at around the same time.
The burden of meeting the target, however, is not on Uber, but rather on the manufacturing partners for the VTOL vehicles. While flying cars used to be a futuristic idea, these companies are now tasked with creating these vehicles within three years.