Uber revealed its plans to take the skies with new aircraft concepts while announcing new partnerships at its ongoing 2nd Annual Elevate Summit. Uber won't build the flying taxi itself but aviation company partners will use the eCRM-003 (common reference model) as a framework around which they can build aircraft for the Uber Air aerial ride-hailing service.
Slovenia-based Pipistrel (now Pipistrel Vertical Solutions) used the Elevate summit to unveil a concept of its aircraft.
Dallas and Los Angeles were previously announced as the first two launch cities, and Uber is now seeking an global city as the third partner. But Uber's new prototype vehicle, known as the eCRM-003, unveiled Tuesday shows off its vision of the future of transportation - a "flying taxi" that aims to alleviate urban congestion. The simulations would take into account everything from delivery drones to passenger aircraft.
Uber said its air taxi would take off and land vertically like a helicopter but would be much less noisy. Uber officials have ambitious plans that include skyports being able to handle 200 takeoffs and landings an hour, or one every 24 seconds, according to CNBC.
"We think cities are going to go vertical in terms of transportation and we want to make that a reality", Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CBS News in an exclusive interview this morning about the flying taxis the company says will zip through the air at up to 320km/h. A single charge of its batteries would be good enough for it to fly for at least 60 miles and these taxis would need less than five minutes to recharge its batteries between flights.
Uber Aviation programs head Eric Allison hopes that the flying taxis will push people to no longer find the need to own a personal vehicle. However, the final flying machines will not be an exact replica of these concept images.
Uber expects its flights to have a human pilot in the beginning but the company has expressed its desire to make UberAIR automatically driven.
Nasa will use the data supplied by Uber to simulate a small passenger-carrying aircraft as it flies through the airport's airspace during peak scheduled air traffic.
Uber, who have recently come under a great deal of fire after their driverless vehicle killed a woman crossing a road during testing in Arizona, are keenly aware of the need for public trust to be regained in order for their UberAIR project to achieve success. These simulations will help to identify potential safety issues as these aircraft join an already crowded air traffic control system.