Uber is Planning an Air Cab Service
Over the next few years, if you’re planning on taking a cab, you may want to look to the skies. That’s right, Uber is working on a flying taxi cab concept called “Uber Air” that is due to take off in the next few years.
While the ride sharing company has been working on this idea for over a year now, they have recently started highlighting their plans in greater detail. Last November, Uber announced that they were partnering with NASA. The partnership will develop air traffic systems that could carry passengers in a safe, efficient, and reliable way.
With the proper funding and research to back it up, this idea could come into full fruition in less than 10 years. Uber is committed on fulfilling its dream to produce the world’s first flying cabs. If successful, it would launch the ride-sharing company into a huge new market that could be worth many billions. Eventually, the airborne cabs will fly themselves and revolutionize personal transportation as we know it.
Uber Plans to Use Mini-Airports
At this point in time, Uber has not decided on what kind of aircraft will be used, to carry 4-6 passengers at a time. Obviously, the aircraft will have to be able to take off and land on a vertical scale, without requiring rows and rows of runways to support it.
In short, they will need a VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) capability to fulfill their plans. The VTOL planes are designed to fit inside what Uber calls “mini airports” or “vertiports”, which will be built in multiple locations across multiple cities around the globe. Not only will they need to take off and land in a vertical position, but they will also have to fly around without making too much noise. Otherwise, people will quickly start to complain about noise pollution and start protesting.
Uber Plans to First Test Flying Cabs in Three Cities
Uber is planning to launch the premiere, fully-functioning flying taxi service in three key cities: Los Angeles, Dubai, and Dallas. The service is set to launch in 2020. Uber will monitor the service and make adjustments before rolling out the service to other markets. As soon as they successfully perfect the system, they will officially launch the service with the name “Uber Air”.
Uber Plans to Use Noise Reduction Technology
It’s quite a challenge to try and find a flying craft that will make the least amount of noise. It’s obvious that existing craft such as helicopters will be the most difficult to work with, as they rotate on huge fast-spinning blades that make loud sounds. However, the alternative, which is smaller propellers on something like the Lightning Strike plane, can also be too loud when they are all running at once. Uber is hoping that NASA continues to improve upon flying craft technology to find a more viable solution over the next couple of years.
People from all around the world have shared their ideas about Uber’s air taxi project. There’s also an X-prize with the intent of helping people develop a super quiet plane, which is so quiet, that it only gets as loud as a normal human conversation from 130 feet away. The challenge has been pressed further to inspire the creation of an electric plane. Batteries will last through several flights and be equipped with fast charging times so that they aren’t down for too long.
Electric Flying Taxis Will Be Able to Charge in 3 Minutes
Uber itself spoke with ChargePoint, which is a company that makes electric car chargers and stations, asking if they would be able to develop plane-charging stations for the projected vertiports. There are already 842 Tesla charging stations around the globe, which only take 30 minutes to restore a battery to 80% of its power. However, with the way this technology is advancing, over the next 7 years it is predicted that it will only take as little as 3 minutes to charge a battery to 80%.
Uber has fully backed the project and will start mass producing these planes and vertiports within 6 years. They want to develop large-scale flying taxi services in no less than 10 years, being the first to deliver a truly groundbreaking method of taxi technology. But in order for them to achieve their goals, they have to push manufacturers to move as fast as possible. It takes a few years just for an electric plane to become certified, so it will take a few years for the first generation of air taxis to lift off.
Is this project realistic, or is it just a fantasy? No matter the answer, Uber is still representing the idea of diversifying into growing markets. It will take significant resources for this kind of rapid development in technology, even in the shortest amount of time possible. This also begs the question of why Uber is so intent on becoming the first air taxi service, and why they have become so invested in this service, to begin with. Perhaps the better question to ask would be if Uber can afford to not push for this kind of change, whether or not it is realistic. They seem to want to hold a monopoly on all types of taxi services, including those that don’t even exist yet.
How to Convince Cities
Uber’s real challenge, and the last challenge they need to face before getting their project approved, is convincing the cities that this new technology is safe, sound, and non-invasive. The United States may especially take issue with this since there are tons of legal and environmental ramifications that must be met.
Uber Will Test in Dubai First
That’s why Uber is heading to Dubai first. Dubai has already given the go-ahead to a Chinese program that will offer sky taxi flights as soon as this July. The United States is slower to accept, although they have already been given the go-ahead by the mayors of Dallas and Fort Worth. “We have a history of aviation”, says Dallas Mayor Michael S. Rawlings. The need to preserve that history of innovation definitely exists.
Uber plans on putting vertiports on top of tall buildings, which won’t take up any space on the ground. Dallas is already used to accommodating large airports, making it easier to get the approval for these new developments. It’s just the push for the development of the VTOL aircraft vehicle that is giving manufacturers and developers a hard time. Companies like Aurora Flight Sciences, Embraer, and Mooney are on board, trying to create concepts for both private and public planes. NASA is on board with some plans of their own as well.
In the Future you will Look to the Sky to Hail a Taxi
It’s very possible that the future may bring a world where you can hail a taxi from the sky. You can catch an Uber Air and fly home after work while avoiding all of the heavy traffic on the ground. Uber AIR will deliver your goods and pick you up from several locations from now on. Then, you’ll fly home at over 200 miles per hour. This will change the world of commuting as we know it.
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