Car-hailing company Uber is heading to the skies. The company announced a partnership with NASA today to devise a plan to work together on making low-altitude flying vehicles that you can use to get around a city like Los Angeles.
A concept video for the new service shows how UberAir might work. In the situation presented in the video, you’d head to the “Uber vertiport” on top of a building to board your aircraft to take you where you want to go before landing at another port. Uber said this is more economically viable than things like roads, rail, bridges, and tunnels.
“So far we’ve been focused on ground-based transportation. For us, the natural next step was flight,” Uber chief product officer Jeff Holden said. The executive explained that flying can be faster and better for the environment, while the price may not be as high as you think. Uber says its new service will cost the same as UberX at launch.
UberAir’s vehicles are called Electric Vertical Take-Off And Landing Vehicles or EVTOLs. “They’ll fundamentally change how are cities function and how we will live in them,” Uber Aircraft Systems boss Mark Moore says.
Don’t expect to be flying around in Uber’s new air vehicles any time soon, however, as another Uber executive said in the video below that, “It’s very much the early morning on day one of this adventure.”
“On-demand aviation has the potential to radically improve urban mobility, giving people back time lost in their daily commutes,” the company said. “Uber is close to the commute pain that citizens in cities around the world feel. We view helping to solve this problem as core to our mission and our commitment to our rider base. Just as skyscrapers allowed cities to use limited land more efficiently, urban air transportation will use three-dimensional airspace to alleviate transportation congestion on the ground.”
Los Angeles, Dallas, and Dubai are expected to be among the first cities to offer UberAir. In Los Angeles, Uber will install 20 of its Skyports around the city, including places like Los Angeles International Airport, Santa Monica, and Sherman Oaks. Operations in LA are expected to open in 2020. For what it’s worth, Blade Runner predicted we would have flying cars in 2019.