Getting from point A to point B in a car traveling on the ground is so 2017. Instead, Uber is working on a future where people will zip across cities in the sky. The company plans to test their on-demand flying car service, called Uber Elevate, in Dallas and Dubai by 2020.
Uber wants customers to be able to press a button and summon a high-speed flying vehicle to transport them around a city through a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) network. They claim their zero-emissions vehicles will be electric and quiet, taking off and landing vertically – like a helicopter. Uber is developing the vehicles with five partners, including aviation companies like Bell Helicopter and Embraer.
And they’ve already got a few cities on board. Uber has an agreement with Dubai Roads and Transport Authority, including a joint study into pricing, routes, and people movement. Uber aims to launch an Uber Elevate Network demonstration at the 2020 World Expo in Dubai. They also aim to initiate a pilot program in Dallas the same year before full-scale operations in Texas in 2023.
Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said, “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.”
The BBC noted the technology isn’t proven yet, but Uber thinks their flying car service could cost around the same as their car transportation system. Regulation and safety are two other major hurdles Uber must leap before their technology can take to the skies.