Uber introduced flying taxis
Uber introduced flying taxis
Just imagine, you are waiting on a rooftop with all your luggage in the hand. Next moment, a drone like small helicopter lands on the roof and takes you off for your next destination. Sounds like a bollywood flick? but, that is true. Uber has introduced its flying taxi a.k.a flying cars which will ferry passengers in small helicopters.
Uber announced that Los Angeles will be the third city where Uber Flying cars will be started in the first phase. Uber calls this project as Elevate. Other two cities are Dubai and Dallas-Fort Worth. This project will go live in 2020, according to the company. If everything works in the same way as dreamed by Uber, we would see passengers being ferried in small drones from one corner of city to another like the movies The fifth element or Dr. Who
Not just an announcement
If you think that this is just another announcement which will never materialize. Let me tell you some critical facts about this project. Uber is very serious about this plan. And, it has already partnered or in talks with many aircraft manufacturers like Boeing, Airbus and Kitty Hawk. Uber has done partnership with many reality firms to provide it the helipad for the upcoming project. And most important, the app based taxi firm is also in discussion with NASA (yes the same NAS which works on space projects) to make a blueprint of a new air traffic control system for low flying helicopters (not exactly helicopters). And NASA has already expressed its involvement in the project.
So, what these device are actually? They are not helicopters neither are they drones. Uber calls it VTOL, and acronym for vertical take-off and landing aircraft. VTOL is not an uber invention. This term is in use for last 10 years. A VTOL aircraft can take off, hover and land vertically. For example, helicopter. There are big manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus which are involved in the production of VTOL machines. You can check this site to know about the VTOL objects – http://www.krossblade.com/vtol-vertical-take-off-and-landing/
How will it work
The Uber flying cars will take off from some designated roof top helipads, called Skyport. Skyport will be made on a high rise building near your starting point. An agent will be waiting there to guide you to the aircraft. You will reach the skyport and will board the aircraft under the guidance of the agent after checking passing through some security measures. The taxi will will then take off. It will land you on another designated skyport rooftop which will be near your destination. So, this is how it is supposed to work, as described by Uber.
How close is Uber to the project
No one knows. Sounds funny however, no one knows the exact status of the project Elevate except, Uber top officials. Although They say project will be rolled out in 2020 in 3 of the best cities of the world, there are more hindrance to the project than you think.
Most importantly, the regulatory based. There is no official regulation available so far to guide the traffic of low flying objects like drone and VTOL. Although, NASA is formalizing the rules, it is still in nascent stage. Even if we get a new traffic rules for drones, how each country will implement it, is still hazy. It may take Uber years to convince a city administration to allow them fly taxis over the city sky.
Uber officials will need a different level of marketing skills to sell their flying cars idea to countries.
Besides regulatory difficulties, there are technical roadblocks too. Till now, Uber has no technical prototype of taxis available to them. We have not seen any VTOL flying comfortably over a city sky hundred times a day. When that prototype will be available, no one knows.
Being optimistic, I think project Elevate is going in positive direction. Such a reputed billion dollar company will not spend money in a project which will never see the day of light. There are concrete evidences that Uber has partnered with some real estate firms and aircraft manufacturing companies to build such flying taxis. And moreover, last month Uber officials have a day-long meeting with LA mayor and their team on this issue. So, There is something going on.
And, don’t think that this idea of flying taxi is very unique to Uber. There are 19 other companies involved in the development of flying cars. So, this idea is not very alien to the companies Munich-based aviation startup firm Lilium is planning on-demand flying taxi service that will be offering sharing taxis in the sky. Initially, it will be a two-seater aircraft shaped like a normal plane that uses a VTOL system. – The wired.
And if you think Uber cars will be ferrying the passengers from Bangalore international airport to Indira Nagar or from Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus Mumbai to Andheri, think again. This is not going to happen in nearby future. Considering India’s congested city skyline and unregulated civic affairs, it is next to impossible.
Lets see how Uber implements this project. I am eagerly waiting. And, you?