Buckle up! Uber to launch 'flying cars' by 2020

US ride-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] expects to deploy flying taxi services in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and Dubai in 2020, Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said at the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas.

Uber chief product officer Jeff Holden told the summit that urban aviation was a "natural next step for Uber" and it expected to deploy its flying taxis in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and Dubai by 2020.

Dallas will be the first US city to partner with Uber to help develop flying cars or VTOLs (vertical take off and landing) aircraft.

According to Holden, the company has also begun discussions with NASA and the National Air Traffic Control Association about "airspace management", which is a fancy way of saying the logistics of dispatching flying cars.

This past September, an Uber executive revealed that the company was entertaining the idea of launching some type of flying vehicle that could enable it to transport customers in the sky rather than on the road. But the company had plans to pursue flying ride sharing long before the other drama it's now dealing with, and for observers of this unique space, it's no doubt interesting that Uber continues to press on. In Uber's vision, getting people from outer borough and suburbs to the city can be enabled by flying taxis.

Forget self-driving cars, what about flying cars?


Uber Elevate would feature electric vehicles capable of vertical take-off and landing, with app users able to book a ride at the push of a mobile phone button. A two-hour drive from San Francisco to San Jose could be completed in just 15 minutes by air.

Uber's ambitious plans comes as the company experienced fast revenue growth but $2.8 billion in losses a year ago.

Startup ChargePoint, meanwhile, has been tapped to develop the infrastructure that the flying cars network will utilize, including the special chargers that the VTOL vehicles will use.

A graphic shown during the Uber Elevate Summit shows the first five hubs anticipated for Dallas-Fort Worth and for Dubai. But Holden says that Uber's models indicate that even early operations will cost $1.32 per passenger mile, which is the cost of an UberX.

Despite a history as a fixed-wing aircraft developer, Embraer's Business Innovation Center in Melbourne, Florida, also announced a preliminary partnership with Uber to explore the development of small electric VTOL aircraft for short commutes.

Uber's announcement came on the heels of Kitty Hawk, a start-up company backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, debuting its ultralight aircraft prototype in a demonstration video on Monday (local time).


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