Uber’s Shared Air Transportation Expands Outside the US

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Uber’s new flying taxi project, Uber Air, has still a way to go. In order for this electric VTOL aircraft fleet made for travel in urban airspace to become a reality, it will need to have proper batteries, approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, buy-in from cities, public acceptance and, of course, vehicle partners. Right now, the model of Uber Air we may see in the skies will have a pilot on board. The model Uber unveiled recently seats four people and one pilot, according to techcrunch.com. The shared air transportation service is planned for 2023.

Meanwhile, the city of Melbourne in Australia was selected to join US cities Los Angeles and Dallas as locations for the Uber pilot flying taxi service. According to Uber’s website, the long-term vision is for safe, quiet electric aircraft that transport “tens of thousands of people across cities for the same price as an UberX trip over the same distance”.

“Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology,” said Susan Anderson, general manager for Uber in Australia and New Zealand. “This, coupled with Melbourne’s unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the perfect third launch city for Uber Air.”

Uber’s plans to kickstart the “future of aerial ridesharing” include developing vertical takeoff and landing vehicles. These vehicles would travel between specially designed Skyports capable of handling up to 1000 landings per hour.

Vehicles will be designed to meet a set of requirements, including noise limitations, battery storage, payload space and overall vehicle size, according to createdigital.org.au.  

Test flights in Melbourne are due to start from 2020 and the company plans to begin commercial operations in 2023, though it’s unclear if this transport mode will be met with cheers or scoffs once it launches to the public. Anderson also hinted at plans to expand Uber Air trials to other Australian cities soon after.