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Uber Air Will Start Test Flight Next Year

Uber Air Will Start Test Flight Next Year

Uber is building the future of aerial ridesharing. In 2023, Uber plans to give riders the option of an affordable shared flight. Uber is working closely with federal and local policymakers to develop an aerial offering that’s safe, quiet, and environmentally conscious, and that extends the reach of existing transportation options.

Melbourne will be the first city outside the US to host trials of Uber Air, a service the company describes as “aerial ridesharing” that will shuttle people from rooftop to rooftop for the price of an UberX.  Passengers will travel in “electric vertical take-off” contraptions.

The service will operate using the Uber app, allowing passengers to travel across a network of landing pads called “Skyports”. Uber's planned air fleet includes electric jet-powered vehicles - part helicopter, part drone and part fixed-wing aircraft - running multiple small rotors capable of both vertical take-off and landing and rapid horizontal flight.

It's flying taxis looks like spaceX's Crew Dragon Spacecraft. There are four passenger seats, arranged two-by-two. Behind the second row is space for storing luggage. Aside from some electric blue lighting and similarly colored seat belts, that’s about it.

There aren’t the same kinds of creature comforts you’d find on an airplane, but that’s likely by design since Uber is planning to only use these aircraft for short rides.

Designed in partnership with a company called Safran Cabin, Uber wants the simple but sleek interior design to become a widely accepted standard for eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) vehicle rider experience.

Flying taxis are just one of the many things Uber is working on in its quest to become the ultimate transportation company, or as CEO Dara Khosrowshahi recently put it, the “one-stop shop for the movement of people and powering local commerce around the world."

The concept had the potential to reduce traffic congestion which costs the Australian economy an estimated $16.5bn a year. The 19km journey from the CBD to Melbourne airport can take anywhere from 25 minutes to around an hour by car in peak hour, but with Uber Air this will take around 10 minutes, Allison said.

Uber wants to perform its own test flights in 2020, and it plans to launch some version of an air taxi service in 2023, starting in Dallas, Texas, and Los Angeles, California. 

The company also recently announced that it will offer helicopter rides in New York from lower Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

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