Uber plans to turn a flight of fantasy into reality, announcing Tuesday it will offer a flying taxi service in Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai by 2020.
Just don’t call the futuristic cabs “flying cars.”
“I hate that term, but we’ll have to live with it,” the company’s chief product officer, Jeff Holden, said at the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas.
The proposed vehicles — electric vertical takeoff and landing, or VTOLs — look more like drones than cars. They run on electric propulsion, reducing the cost and noise of helicopters.
The San Francisco-based transportation network company envisions an on-demand service, Uber Elevate, that could take to the skies at up to 150 mph within a decade.
Uber has deals with five companies working on aircraft development — Aurora Flight Sciences, Pipistrel, Bell Helicopter, Embraer and Mooney. Aurora said it conducted the first test flight of a VTOL prototype last week, and plans to deliver 50 aircraft to Uber for testing by 2020.
Uber also has agreements with real estate companies to scout for “vertiport” locations in Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai.
“It’s natural for Uber to turn its eyes to the air: push a button, get a flight,” Holden said. “Urban aviation can replace long-distance commutes.”
But Uber is not alone in the quest to turn fantasy into reality. On Monday, aerospace startup Kitty Hawk unveiled its long-awaited flying car. The Kitty Hawk Flyer, an ultralight aircraft that is only able to fly over water, should be available for purchase by the end of the year.