Uber might not be winning the autonomous driving race (thanks to the accident and fatality in Arizona recently), but when it comes to pie-in-sky ideas, they're at the top of the heap ever since they announced the future launch of Uber Elevate, the brand's sky taxi service at their second annual “flying taxi” conference in Los Angeles. Both Uber and the companies tagged to possibly build their flying fleet are serious about the future of this service.
Embraer and Pipistrel Aircraft, two aircraft manufacturers, are currently working with the ridesharing giant and have delivered renderings of their proposed models. It's an ambitious project that has stringent requirements that are working with Uber, released new concept images of aircraft they plan on building for the ride-hailing company’s ambitious project.
Uber's requirements are maneuverability via vertical take-off and landing with the ability to engage rooftops, and the craft should be able to move like an airplane at higher altitudes. Even more important than that, they must be electrically powered. But there are significant hurdles that include technology, regulatory, and infrastructure issues that must be solved before the business can even begin.
Other players in the game are small craft builder Karem, Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences and Bell (formerly Bell Helicopters) to develop aircraft for the project. Uber wants to launch as soon as the year 2020, with regular passenger service in major cities beginning in 2023. That's a lot of ground/air to cover in a short period of time.
It's still very early in the game, but that still doesn't mean there's a ton of time (two years), and there's no indication of what the finished products will look like. It's clearly an interesting future that may just change the face of transportation. We're excited to see what will happen, and if all goes well, the painful days of Kalanick may dissipate forever.