I love the convenience of pressing a button on my phone and minutes later, a car magically arrived to drive me to my destination. My own private driver – could this get any better?
Yes. How about a private Uber pilot? Welcome to Uber Air!
Uber has recently announced that it is taking its on-demand “taxi” service to the sky with Uber Air. Uber wants to cut our commute and help reduce road congestion even further by having us take off in an Uber Air.
Imagine starting your commute with an UberX, heading over to the local skyport and then taking off over the most congested part of your journey. When you and at the skyport closest to your destination, you hope in another Uber X or a bike or scooter and complete the journey.
Skyports are mini airports will have landing and taking off facilities on the rooftops while housing co-working spaces, restaurants and parks within. These are some conceptual designs shown at the Elevate Summit
When and Where will Uber Air start?
If you think this is way too Jetsons-movie-like and will only happen in the future, well you are partly correct. Test flights will begin as early as 2020 but full-scale commercial operations is scheduled for 2023 – so that not in the too distant future at all.
Uber has identified that Uber Air will initially be trialed in Los Angeles and Dallas in the USA and Melbourne, Australia is the first international location. [Ed Note: Just in case Uber reads this, I live in Dallas and can’t wait to try this!]
What can we expect from Uber Air?
Eventually Uber Air will be autonomous, but of course, it will not start out that way. Uber has revealed that it would like the crafts to be electric-powered with one pilot and four passengers.
Those traveling alone would use Uber [Air?] Pool to be matched up with other travelers and together make up the four passengers.
These Uber Air taxi crafts will travel between 150 and 200 mph at an altitude between 1000 and 2000 feet above the ground. At that altitude, they will not compete with commercial planes who cruise at 35000 feet.
Flying this low means that Uber will need to comply with very strict FAA and noise regulations, but Uber claims that its crafts will be quieter than helicopters and will have more redundancy and fail-safes too.
How much will Uber Air cost?
Uber would like to price the rides comparable with Uber Black rates.
Eventually, Uber Air will cost the same at Uber X and will be just as convenient, making us think if we even need to own a car. Car ownership is already heavily debated especially in cities with heavy traffic and a great public transport system such as New York.
Taking off in July from New York
Starting in July, Uber will launch Uber Copter in Manhattan that will take its passengers to JFK International airport. This service is said to cost around $200 per person and will only be available to select Uber customers.
I assume this is where Uber will test some of its algorithm theories by matching passenger, to flight times, to Uber rides to and from the take off-site.
This is why we need 5G connectivity. 5G unlocks many of these high-bandwidth bottlenecks so that enough data can be reliably transferred to and from systems, making flying taxis possible.
As “futuristic” as this sound, it will be surprisingly quick before you have that “what time is the Uber Air coming?” conversation.
The BIG question: will YOU get into an Uber Air?
Flying cars are no longer something you just see in the movies.
— Uber (@Uber) June 11, 2019
*images and more information, check out the Uber Air site