Date
23 May 2017
A future Uber Elevate networks facility is pictured in this handout illustration. Uber is planning to deploy flying taxis in Texas and Dubai by 2020. Photo: Reuters
A future Uber Elevate networks facility is pictured in this handout illustration. Uber is planning to deploy flying taxis in Texas and Dubai by 2020. Photo: Reuters

Uber looks to skies with flying taxis by 2020

Uber Technologies Inc. is aiming for the skies with its flying taxis, Reuters reports.

After upending the taxi market with its ride-hailing service, the company expects to deploy its flying taxis in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and Dubai by 2020, chief product officer Jeff Holden said at the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas on Tuesday.

Uber’s flying taxis will be small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically, or VTOLs, with zero emissions and quiet enough to operate in cities.

Flying taxis would cut down travel time between San Francisco’s Marina to downtown San Jose to 15 minutes, compared with the more than two hours it takes by road, Uber estimates.

In an early scale operation, the company can get to US$1.32 per passenger mile, a little higher than taking an UberX for a similar distance, Holden said.

In the longer term, Uber expects the cost of taking flying taxis to fall below car ownership.

The company is working with Hillwood Properties to make four vertiports – VTOL hubs with multiple takeoff and landing pads, and charging infrastructure – in Dallas starting next year, Holden said.

Uber, valued at US$68 billion, has also teamed up with companies such as Bell Helicopter, Aurora, Pipistrel, Mooney and Embraer to make the flying taxis.

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