If you thought your last vacation was logistical torment, try executing aerial ridesharing in major urban settings. Uber has taken on that task through their initiative Uber Elevate, which plans to bring Uber Air Taxis to Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne in 2023. To tackle the manufacturing end of the equation, Uber is partnering with Hyundai, the first car company to join the Uber Elevate initiative.
Under the partnership, Hyundai will take care of producing the air vehicles, namely electric vertical take off and landing personal air vehicles or eVTOL PAVs if you prefer acronyms, while Uber will provide the customer interface (the app) along with creating an aerial rideshare network, and providing airspace support services. The two companies will collaborate on infrastructure ideas for landing/takeoff areas. (If you’ve got a tall building to offer up with a nice flat roof, maybe give them a call.)
A full-scale concept of the craft itself was revealed at CES this year. The production model will aim for a cruising speed of 180 miles an hour at an altitude between 1,000 and 2,000 feet. The range will be trips of around 60 miles, so generally Uber Air taxis will connect suburbs and cities, not take you cross-country. The electric motors will propel multiple rotors and propellers, making the craft both safer (decreasing consequences from any single point of failure) and quieter (something city residents are going to pretty much demand when these things eventually deploy).
The propellers will tilt — downwards for vertical take off, then transition to horizontal for wing-borne flight. The cabin will hold you and three other passengers and they’re promising enough room for a bag or pack per rider. When you hail an Uber in 2023, look up.
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