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Jun 11, 2018,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Flying taxis: Uber Elevate aiming to launch first commercial flights in 2023

Uber managers revealed details of their flying taxi project at the start of May, showing videos of the prototypes in action. Though the ride-hailing giant has yet to choose a model, tests are due to begin in 2020, prior to a commercial launch scheduled for 2023.

 

Uber recently announced that its flying taxi project was more alive than ever, providing a provisional schedule for its launch at the second annual Uber Elevate Summit in Los Angeles (USA) on 8 May. The first tests are due to take place in 2020, while the first flights – which will be bookable via the Uber app – are slated to take off in 2023, as reported by Tom Travel.

Uber added that it has yet to select the aircraft it will use to carry passengers. The San Francisco-based firm nevertheless revealed video images of the various options they are considering. “They’re prototypes that don’t even exist yet,” said Eric Allison, who heads Uber’s aviation programmes.

 

Prototypes on order

 

A cross between a drone and a helicopter, the aircraft are the work of some of the leading names in aerospace design, among them Karem Aircraft, Brazilian aerospace firm Embraer and their Slovenian competitors Pipistrel.

It is not yet known which of the models Uber will choose, though the company has stated that the flying taxis will be operated, initially at least, by an onboard pilot. The aim is for them to carry between two and four people.

 

Speeds of up to 320 kmh

 

“The planes are all-electric and can reach speeds of between 240 and 320 kmh,” said Uber Aviation product chief Nikhil Goel. The aircraft will also take off vertically, fly at an altitude of between 60 and 300 metres, and have a range of up to 96 kilometres.

Goel added that the use of airspace for everyday travel would greatly improve transport around the world and help to relieve congestion on the roads. Nor would they be the sole preserve of a wealthy few. “The rational choice for transportation will be less and less to own and drive a car,” added Allison. “We want to price it so low, it’ll be irrational to drive your car.”

 

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