Being stuck in traffic jams may become a thing of the past if you live in in LA, Dallas Fort-Worth or Dubai, as ride-share company Uber has announced that it hopes to launch flying taxis there by 2020.
The project, called Uber Elevate, will see the company launching a fleet of small, lightweight aircraft. Known as evTOLS, these ‘electrical vertical take-off and landing vehicles’ are said to be quieter, safer, more affordable and more environmentally-friendly than regular helicopters. They will operate by moving around a network of skyports, which are private landing and take-off sites on building roofs. To this end, uberAIR, as the flying taxi strand of the company will be known, has already entered into a partnership with real estate developer Hillwood around the first series of launch sites.
Booking a personal flying taxi would be similar to the existing Uber app, but there would be scheduled departure times and routes. Like the regular cabs, each aircraft can be shared – flying taxis will be able to take groups of up to four passengers. They could reach speeds of 320kph, and the good news is that while they will greatly reduce travel time for passengers and remove the frustration of being stuck in a traffic jam, trips will cost roughly the same as a regular cab ride.
It is estimated that the vehicles will eventually become autonomous, thanks to their advanced computer controls. As uberAIR hopes to performs tens of thousands of flights each day across the cities, it recently announced at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon that it has joined forces with NASA to develop a traffic management system. The recommendations will be shared with the Federal Aviation Administration in 2019, which will determine how they should be integrated into existing air traffic systems.