Transportation Network Company headquartered in San Francisco, Uber Technologies Inc. is gearing up to revolutionise travel by air. The company currently operating in 570 cities worldwide is planning foray into air travel by 2020. The company will deploy flying taxis in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas and Dubai by the end of this decade.
Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden has confirmed the development at the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas on Tuesday, April 25, reported Reuters. Uber's flying taxis will be small, electric aircraft that can take off and land vertically, or VTOLs, with zero emissions and quiet enough to operate in cities.
The ambitious project is expected to cut down travel time between San Francisco's Marina to downtown San Jose by 15 minutes. Currently, it takes more than two hours to cover this journey by road.
Holden said the company can get to $1.32 per passenger mile in the initial stages of the operation which is a little higher than taking an UberX for a similar distance. However, Uber calculates the fare of taking flying taxis will eventually fall below car ownership once it gets fully operational for certain period of time.
To get wings for this grand project, Uber will tie up many other companies such as Hillwood Properties to make four vertiports — VTOL hubs with multiple takeoff and landing pads, and charging infrastructure — in Dallas starting next year. The company has also joined forces with companies such as Bell Helicopter, Aurora, Pipistrel, Mooney and Embraer to make the flying taxis real. In alliance with electric vehicle charging station maker ChargePoint Inc., Uber also is working on developing an exclusive charger for its network.
Apart from Uber, there are two more companies are working towards flying cars. Dutch outfit PAL-V International B.V. has already opened bookings for road and air-legal flying car, PAL-V Liberty. Priced at $599,000 (approximately Rs 4 crore) on PAL-V's website, the Liberty is limited to only 90 units and deliveries are scheduled by the end of 2018.
On the other hand, Slovakian company AeroMobil has also revealed its flying car recently. The AeroMobil flying car is expected to go on production lines in the coming years with the first deliveries to be made to its customers by 2020. Limited to a maximum of 500 units and could be priced anywhere between 1.3m to 1.6m Euros.