Uber reaches for the sky in new transport vision

The Uber plan includes partnerships for "vertiports" for the flyers to take off and land, along with charging stations for the transporters, which are expected to be mainly electric-powered.
The Uber plan includes partnerships for "vertiports" for the flyers to take off and land, along with charging stations for the transporters, which are expected to be mainly electric-powered.PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO • Uber wants to launch a system of flying cars to move people around cities, with a goal of putting demonstration projects in place by 2020.

The ride-sharing giant this week announced a series of partnerships to manufacture "vertical take-off and landing" vehicles and put networks in place, a system dubbed Uber Elevate.

The partner cities working with Uber are Dubai and the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolis in Texas.

Tuesday's announcement came at a summit held in the Dallas area with partners in the project.

"What started as a simple question, 'why can't I push a button and get a ride?' has turned, for Uber, into a passionate pursuit of the pinnacle of urban mobility - the reduction of congestion and pollution from transportation - giving people their time back, freeing up real estate dedicated to parking and providing access to mobility in all corners of a city," said Uber chief product officer Jeff Holden.

SOARING AMBITION

Urban aviation is a natural next step for Uber in this pursuit, which is why we are working to make push a button, get a flight a reality.

UBER CHIEF PRODUCT OFFICER JEFF HOLDEN, on the firm's flying-car project.

"Urban aviation is a natural next step for Uber in this pursuit, which is why we are working to make push a button, get a flight a reality," he added.

Uber's goal is to have the first demonstration network in place in Dubai for the 2020 World Expo in that Middle Eastern city, and another pilot in Dallas the same year ahead of "full-scale operations" in the Texas region by 2023.

The announcement came a day after Silicon Valley "flying car" start-up Kitty Hawk, reportedly backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, released a video of its airborne prototype and announced plans for deliveries of a "personal flying machine" this year.

Uber's plans appear more ambitious, and include partnerships with US-based Bell Helicopter, Brazilian manufacturer Embraer and Slovenia's Pipistrel to produce flying machines for short-distance urban operations.

The Uber plan includes partnerships for "vertiports" for the flyers to take off and land, along with charging stations for the transporters, which are expected to be mainly electric-powered.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2017, with the headline 'Uber reaches for the sky in new transport vision'. Print Edition | Subscribe