Want to get from city to city chop-chop? Just fly Uber

Lifestyle

Want to get from city to city chop-chop? Just fly Uber

The on-demand taxi service is looking to the skies

Paula Andropoulos

The second annual Uber Elevate Summit took place at the beginning of May in Los Angeles, offering the masses a dazzling overview of some of the transport leviathan’s futuristic aspirations. Its partnership with Brazilian aerospace company Embraer and Nasa elicited the most excitement: they are working together to establish Uber’s first squadron of flying taxis called Uber Elevate.Uber is already partially airborne: transit via helicopter is available through its “UberCHOPPER” facility. But this new conveyance would be different, not only in the vehicle’s impact on the environment, but also its financial accessibility. Helicopters are abrasively noisy and, for most people, UberCHOPPER rides are far too expensive for routine expeditions.Embraer’s air taxi is still in the design phase, and was revealed only in simulations at the Elevate Summit. In theory, it’s a vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicle, reminiscent of a helicopter, but electric – and so, ostensibly, quiet. It would be thrust upwards by four vertically oriented rotors, mounted on either side of the roof, and then onward by a propeller engine affixed to the tail. Embraer’s design would seat four passengers and, at least initially, a pilot, until the technology for autonomous flight has been perfected.If the project unfolds according to its plans, Uber will pilot its air-taxi service in population-dense cities such as Dubai and Dallas in about 2020. The company would have to assemble skyports, or outfit existing buildings with landing pads and the infrastructure necessary for maintaining its fleets. But the benefits for Uber’s customers might be well worth the effort: according to Uber, its flying taxi service would only cost as much as an average ride in an Uber Black, and could eventually take people from city to city.

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