Uber plans to test on-demand flying cars network by 2020

Concept image of a Joby S2 one of the emerging flying vehicles highlighted by Uber in a new White Paper

Concept image of a Joby S2 one of the emerging flying vehicles highlighted by Uber in a new White Paper

Uber is looking towards the future of transportation with plans to send taxis into the sky by as early as 2020.

Officials in Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai have signed on to work with the company on testing vehicles that can take off and land vertically in their cities by 2020, Uber said at a conference in Dallas. That's a little more than what an UberX ride costs today and Uber estimates the price will become even cheaper in the longer term. Anyone else finding this all a bit suspish? "So we actually get to live in this era of flying cars", Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer, said during the conference's opening keynote.

Well, if anyone can do it, it's probably Travis Kalanick. Chief Executive Officer Larry Page funded at least two flying auto projects.

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Preliminary estimations show flying taxis would cut down travel time between San Francisco's Marina to downtown San Jose, for example, to 15 minutes.

Somewhat ironically, Holden said Uber also would bring its expertise on working with government and communities, because it already has relationships with regulatory authorities.

The company is working with Hillwood Properties to make four vertiports- VTOL hubs with multiple takeoff and landing pads, and charging infrastructure- in Dallas starting next year.

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Uber envisages VTOL aircraft can be twice as safe as driving a vehicle due to autonomy and distributed electric propulsion (DEP). ChargePoint, which manufactures and operates charging stations for electric cars, will make charging equipment for the vehicles.

"The goal of these partnerships is to develop a new on-demand VTOL network to enable customers in the future to push a button and get a high-speed flight in and around cities", Uber said in a statement.

Uber also announced it has partnered with various companies - ranging from aircraft manufacturers to a company that makes electric auto chargers - to make Elevate a reality.

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Uber also partnered with aircraft manufacturers who are developing electric VTOL vehicles such as Aurora Flight Sciences, Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer, Mooney and Bell Helicopter. This will call a Vertical Take Off and Landing electric vehicle that lands and flies you to where you need to go.

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