Uber looks to soar with fly­ing taxis by 2020 in some cities

Metro USA (New York) - - News - REUTERS

Af­ter up­end­ing the taxi mar­ket with its ride­hail­ing ser­vice, Uber Tech­nolo­gies Inc. is now aim­ing for the skies with its fly­ing taxis.

The com­pany ex­pects to de­ploy its fly­ing taxis in Dal­las-Fort Worth, Texas, and Dubai by 2020, Chief Prod­uct Of­fi­cer Jeff Holden said at the Uber El­e­vate Sum­mit in Dal­las on Tues­day.

Uber’s fly­ing taxis will be small, elec­tric air­craft that take off and land ver­ti­cally, or VTOLs, with zero emis­sions and quiet enough to op­er­ate in cities.

Fly­ing taxis would cut down travel time be­tween San Fran­cisco’s Ma­rina to down­town San Jose to 15 min­utes, com­pared with the more than two hours it takes by road, Uber es­ti­mates.

In an early scale op­er­a­tion, the com­pany can get to $1.32 per pas­sen­ger mile, a lit­tle higher than tak­ing an UberX for a sim­i­lar dis­tance, Holden said.

The com­pany is work­ing with Hill­wood Prop­er­ties to make four “ver­ti­ports” — VTOL hubs with mul­ti­ple takeoff and land­ing pads, and charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture — in Dal­las start­ing next year, Holden said.

Uber, val­ued at $68 bil­lion, has also teamed up with com­pa­nies such as Bell He­li­copter, Aurora, Pip­istrel, Mooney and Em­braer to make the fly­ing taxis.

The com­pany has also part­nered with elec­tric ve­hi­cle charg­ing sta­tion maker ChargePoint Inc. Uber is work­ing on de­vel­op­ing an ex­clu­sive charger for its net­work.

Uber, which has part­nered with the Dubai government, ex­pects to con­duct pas­sen­ger flights as part of the World Expo 2020 in Dubai.

The ride-hail­ing ser­vice has re­cently been rocked by a num­ber of set­backs, in­clud­ing de­tailed ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual harassment from a former fe­male em­ployee and a video show­ing Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Travis Kalan­ick harshly be­rat­ing an Uber driver.


In the longer term, Uber ex­pects the cost of tak­ing fly­ing taxis to fall be­low car own­er­ship.

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