Game Changer

Uber’s Taking to the Skies, But Don’t Call its Vehicles ‘Flying Cars’​​​​​​​

Uber has announced its electrical vertical take-off and landing vehicles are to be let loose on the city of Los Angeles in 2020. You can take a look at Uber’s Blade Runner-inspired vision below

One thing I learned from one of the biggest technology conferences in the world, Web Summit, was that not many of the people working on flying cars like the term ‘flying cars’, and having listened to Uber’s chief product officer, Jeff Holden, speak, the ride-sharing company is no different. But whatever we choose to call the technology, Uber definitely wants us to commute via the skies, and it says it will be in a position to start ferrying passengers by the end of this decade.

This technology, or at least the idea of it, is either very new or very old depending on how you look at it. Flying cars were popularised in 1982’s Blade Runner, and Uber has no qualms about comparing the company’s ‘flying car’ project – dubbed UberAir – to the method of travel popularised in the movie – which showed a vision of cars gliding over a fictional version of 2019 Los Angeles.

“UberAir is coming to Los Angeles, and we’re doing so in 2020,” said Holden. “Blade Runner was only off by one year, which is pretty impressive for a 1982 production.”

If Uber has its way, passengers will be able to hail its electrical vertical take-off and landing vehicles' (eVTOLs), and make trips between LAX and the Staples Centre, which typically takes 1 hour 20 minutes on the ground during rush hour, in less than 30 minutes. And if anyone is sceptical about Uber’s plans then perhaps partnerships with Sandstone Properties, which will provide access to 20 strategically located sky ports, and NASA, which will help Uber get to grips with aerospace management, will help to convince people.

“Technology will allow LA residents to literally fly over the city's historically bad traffic, giving them time back to use in far more productive ways,” said Holden. “At scale, we expect UberAir will perform tens of thousands of flights each day across the city.”

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