Uber plans to fill the skies with flying cars.
Take a flight to work and skip traffic in DC or San Francisco. Just like the Jetsons. It’s finally going to happen. Uber has developed a near 100 page document released today that describes how they will get there. Aviation experts say the time line of 10 years is realistic.
Within five years Uber expects the market to produce a fully electric, vertical takeoff and landing plane that can fly 100 miles at about 150 mph, carrying multiple passengers and a pilot.
Jeff Holden, Uber’s product chief says, “You’ve got the potential for a new transportation method.” Once the pieces are in place, Uber can do what it’s already done with cars: enrolling pilots, connecting them with its massive customer base, and collecting their share of the fare. “We’re just turning the corner now to make that possible,” Holden says. “Our intent is to help the industry get there faster.”
Holden predicts Uber Elevate will operate fixed wing, tilt-rotor aircraft, which take off from helipads instead of space-hungry runways, then swing their propellers forward for efficient level flight a few thousand feet up.
Uber estimates at first the price from San Jose to San Francisco will be $129 and then gradually lower to $43 and then settle around $20. Today those costs on the ground are $111 for uberX, $83 for uberPOOL, and $31 for uberX + transit.
“There is a clear market for on-demand aviation if you could make it practical, and that’s driven a lot by service road congestion,” says R. John Hansman, who runs MIT’s International Center for Air Transportation.
“One of the most fundamental problems of most transportation solutions is that they lack infrastructure,” says Mark Moore, NASA’s chief technologist for on-demand mobility. But that’s not a problem here because America already has over 6000 helipads. “That’s pretty cool, and potentially much more agile and nimble.”