Flying cars have been the subject of science fiction stories since the middle of the last century, but uptil now were just that – fiction. Recently, though, a number of companies have announced that real flying cars will soon be coming to our skies, most notably an announcement this week by ride hailing service Uber that its fleet of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) “Flying Taxis” will be arriving soon.
Uber has confirmed that its new flying taxi service known as Uber Elevate will start in 2020. However, not everyone will be able to enjoy this service by that date. The first “lucky” cities will be Dubai & Dallas.
Uber Elevate Product Manager Jeff Holden has confirmed in a presentation that these taxis will be electric, & that they will launch & set down on landing pads known as Vertiports. It’s meant to be a zero emission & minimum noise transport method, which, as the company claims, will also be cheaper than driving your own car.
Uber has also confirmed that these flying taxis will take off & land vertically, just like a helicopter, which will minimize the space needed to get them to work. Up to 5 companies have partnered with Uber to create the prototypes for this new means of transport. They have acquired the commitment with Uber to have a fleet of 50 units ready to begin tests in 2020.
Among these companies is Aurora Flight Sciences, the company that currently has the most advanced tech, since its flying car is a modification of the XV-24A, which is already used by the US Army.
During Elevate’s presentation, Holden assured the audience that these flying taxis will be able to travel the distance from San Francisco to San Jose, a distance of almost 100 kilometers, in just 15 minutes. This route is commonly made by ground transport in about 2 hours.
So, with the Elevate project, Uber presents its 1st fleet of taxis to be used as a means of transport. An option that is cheaper than conventional alternatives, is able to save its passengers time, covering large distances in a matter of minutes &, in addition, they do not pollute the environment.
Other companies that are also on the bandwagon are Kitty Hawk with its Flyer, which was just recently demonstrated, & whose flying car will go on sale later this year. Airbus’s new prototype, which is autonomous & is based on a helicopter design with room for a number of passengers. & not to be outdone, a German startup named E-volo will be testing their vehicle in 2018.
Image Credit: Uber