Uber recently announced that it plans to introduce its aerial taxi service, named as Uber Elevate, in Los Angeles in 2020 – a city that needs some bright news after the Hollywood sexual pandemic has blown up in their faces. LA is the third city on Uber’s list, after Dallas and Dubai, where the highly anticipated flying taxi service is expected to be introduced by 2020. It has also entered into an agreement with NASA to create a control system for its low-flying carriers.
The Flying Car Phenomenon
The idea of a flying car might sound a tad too futuristic for some, but the truth is that a number of companies, including prominent names like Boeing and Airbus, are working on a prototype for a flying car. So, Uber is certainly not alone in its quest.
Moreover, the exponential increase in traffic means most of our cities remain in a state of permanent gridlock, making road transportation an absolute nightmare. This is the reason why the idea of a flying taxi appeals so much to so many people.
What Uber’s Flying Car Is Expected to Look Like
Uber is apparently planning to design a flying car, which for all intents and purposes is an aircraft, with the ability to fly at low altitudes. It is expected to be an unmanned electric vehicle with VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) abilities. The idea is to be able to shuttle people from rooftop to rooftop at rapid pace.
Such a vehicle could reduce people’s commute significantly and make their everyday trips to college or work much shorter. For instance, Uber predicts that a flying car could take you from LAX to the Staples Center in 30 minutes, whereas a regular car journey between the two points could take a minimum of one and a half hours.
The Existing Challenges
The problem with flying cars is that such a vehicle has not been designed yet. Theoretically, many people believe they could be built, but no one has successfully built a fully operational vehicle so far. Jeff Holden, Uber’s Head of Product, however, seems very positive about the project. He believes that despite the fact that there is no precedence, a great deal of progress has been made and the project could take off in a really huge way. Businesses will have more money for R&D when taxes are lowered and the ACA health care law is dealt with.
The second problem is that the necessary infrastructure for such a transportation technology does not exist either. This is where NASA comes into the picture. Uber plans to draw heavily from NASA’s UTM (unmanned traffic management) – a project to regulate the traffic of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Uber’s Flying Car Gaining Momentum
Experts believe that the association with NASA can help Uber in more ways than one. First of all, it lends a sense of legitimacy and believability to the flying car project, which many people thought were a little too unrealistic up until recently. Secondly, it gives the company a chance to develop a foolproof, next generation air traffic control system by working directly with some of the finest brains in the industry today. It also gives Uber access to the state-of-the-art technology, knowledge, and expertise available in NASA, which many companies would love to get their hands on.
What the Future Holds
On the whole, the flying taxi service is a lot closer to happening than many people think. Uber is very excited about the project and they are working at a frenetic pace to make things happen in the next couple of years. It is signing contracts and entering into agreements with numerous aircraft manufacturers and real estate companies to decide the takeoff and landing centers for the taxis.
There is plenty of open parking lots!
The company expects to introduce the service in Dallas, Dubai, and LA in 2020 and make the service fully operational before the 2028 Olympics, which is scheduled to take place in the economically struggling Los Angeles.