Ride-hailing giant Uber is going skyward with its new ‘Uber Air’ flying taxi service set to start commercial operations in 2023.
The service will be operated by the Uber Elevate division and consist of a fleet of vertical takeoff and landing aircraft powered by electricity. These aircraft will operate between landing sites known as Skyports and could help make journeys significantly shorter than they otherwise would be.
Uber has yet to reveal a functional prototype of the electric aircraft it intends on using, but says it is working with various aviation companies to develop them. In addition, it is working with NASA to develop a management system for the service. Current plans call for human pilots to initially fly the aircraft, but the ultimate goal is to transition to autonomous aircraft.
Uber Air will initially launch in U.S. cities such as Dallas and Los Angeles, with the first non-U.S. location to be Melbourne, Australia. Uber says that a trip between Melbourne’s CBD and its main international airport through the flying taxi service could take as little as 10 minutes compared to the hour-long commute required through road traffic at peak hour.
“Uber’s technology is changing the way people move around their cities; from bikes to pooled rides, we are always looking for ways to reduce the need for private car ownership,” the head of Uber in Australia and North Asia, Susan Anderson said. “In the coming years, with Uber Air, we want to make it possible for people to push a button and get a flight.”