Uber Air announces first global city to trial flying taxis

Lloyd Doyle
June 12, 2019

Following on but unrelated to its more luxury-focused Uber Copter, which launches in New York City in July, Uber this week announced Uber Air, an all-electric flying taxi service that it hopes to begin testing in Australia next year.

Dallas and Los Angeles in the United States will also be pilot cities.

Uber on Tuesday selected Melbourne, Australia, as the first non-US city for its aerial ridesharing service that is expected to launch in 2023, as it unveiled new partners for the ambitious initiative.

"Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ride-sharing and future transport technology", Susan Anderson, regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia, said in a statement.

In announcing Uber Air was coming to Australia, the company announced partnerships with Macquarie, Telstra, and Westfield-operator Scentre Group, and said it would work with existing partners including Melbourne Airport to develop the infrastructure and telecommunications needed to create the aviation network.

The trial will begin in 2020, and there are plans to introduce Uber Air to other Australian cities if it is successful.

"This, coupled with Melbourne's unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the ideal third launch city for Uber Air", she said on Wednesday.

One of Uber's electric air taxis.

In fact, the Government expects Victorians to be taking an Uber Air to the airport before they will be able to catch a train.

While the dream of door-to-door air taxi services lives on, it seems Uber is now planning to operate its intra-city flights between Melbourne Airport and major shopping centres around the city.

It proposed using sites like vehicle parks roofs and existing helipads to run the service. "The closest equivalent technology in use today is the helicopter", the company has previously observed.

Uber also revealed and air taxi cabin design in collaboration with French engineering group Safran.

Uber's planned air fleet includes electric jet-powered vehicles - part helicopter, part drone and part fixed-wing aircraft - running multiple small rotors capable of both vertical take-off and landing and rapid horizontal flight.

Cynthia Whelan, chief strategy officer at Scentre Group, which owns and operates Westfield shopping centres, said the announcement "recognises the strategic locations of our Westfield centres, which are regarded as integral social infrastructure due to their close proximity to customers, communities and transport hubs".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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