When we think of flying cars, our minds go to a futuristic thriller like Blade Runner or a comically imaginative cartoon like the Jetsons. It’s hard to think of something so futuristic outside of the realm of fiction- but it could be in our very near future. Uber recently announced plans to establish what they refer to as “Uber Elevate.” This is, essentially, an initiative to create air taxis or electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles. The purpose of developing these air taxis is to help shorten trips over a small distance that are made long due to traffic congestion. This year, Uber held an Uber Elevate Summit where they laid out their plan, which estimates that the taxis will be ready to launch in 2023.
The term Uber Elevate is all-encompassing for Uber’s uberAIR initiative, the air taxi service, along with other services that may benefit from air transport, such as food delivery. Uber claims that the service will end up being cheaper than owning a car- on a per passenger, per mile basis.
According to Tech Crunch, Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi admitted he wasn’t initially convinced of Uber Elevate’s success, but later came around to the idea, “For me the aha moment came when I started understanding that Uber isn’t just about cars,” Khosrowshahi said. “Ultimately, where we want to go is about urban mobility and urban transport, and being a solution for the cities in which we operate.”
Uber is planning to launch the service in Dallas-Fort Worth and Frisco, Texas areas as well as LA. However, there is a lot that still needs to be accomplished before the launch. Uber will need to develop vehicles, find pilots, create skyports for them to land on, and batteries for the vehicles. They are still in the early stages here and are planning on contracting out the vehicle design to aerospace partners. But who knows, we could be living in Blade Runner sooner than we can imagine.