Buckle up! Uber to launch 'flying cars' by 2020

Apr 26, 2017, 08:46
Buckle up! Uber to launch 'flying cars' by 2020

"Our goal is in five years that Blade will enable New Yorkers to reduce the time and friction of their commutes on an on-demand basis".

Uber announced Tuesday they're partnering with Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopter and four other aircraft manufacturers to build flying taxis that, if all goes to plan, could be whisking North Texans around the Metroplex in just a few years.

That plan depends on the development of electric vertical take-off and landing aircrafts, or eVTOLs, along with the infrastructure to make catching a flying cab just as easy as hailing a normal vehicle.

The first electric aircraft would be piloted but that eventually with fly-by-wire systems, the aircraft could be self-piloted, Holden said.

The region was selected as one of two metropolitan areas in the world, joining Dubai, to explore Uber's Elevate initiative, its latest transportation project that will airlift passengers via vertical take-off and landing aircraft the company is now developing.

It could get even more complicated as companies add self-driving technology to their flying cars. The question is how quickly they can become a mainstream commuter reality. Startups in the Netherlands and Slovakia are both taking deposits for flying cars that are being built and Massachussett's-based Terrafugia is working on a VTOL aircraft that won't require a full pilot's license (Yikes).

The VTOL vehicles, true to their name, will be capable of landing and taking off vertically, which means that there will be no need for a runway to get them in flight. A two-hour drive from San Francisco to San Jose could be completed in just 15 minutes by air. Since Uber imagines a future with significantly less cars on the road, the company expects to use the top level of existing parking structures to house the vertiport stations. Dubai, the other partner city in the Elevate plan, will also examine the tech and business model.

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Uber announced the news in Dallas today, saying that it is entering into partnerships with various companies to get the foundation for this testing in place.

In addition to Bell, Uber says it plans to work with a handful of small aircraft manufacturers like Aurora Flight Sciences, Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer, and Mooney.

The company was also forced to suspend its self-driving auto programme last month after a crash involving one of its vehicles in Arizona.

Uber says it wants to "fast forward to the future".

The company has also partnered with USA electric vehicle charging station maker ChargePoint Inc.

Dallas-Fort Worth residents and visitors could soon skip traffic and travel across the area via aircraft.

Kitty Hawk - a company backed by Larry Page, the Google co-founder and Alphabet Inc. chief executive - debuted its long-secret "Kitty Hawk Flyer" in a demonstration video released Monday.

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