Ub, Ub And Away! Australia Might Be Getting Flying Ubers
Australians may be among the first to take their morning commute to the skies with Uber's ambitious aerial ride-share service.
Uber has plans to take customers to the skies of three cities By 2020, and an Australia might just make the list.
The ride sharing company this week officially announced the shortlist of nations being considered to host its third test city for UberAir-- the soon-to-be-launched aerial taxi service providing customers with flights at the "push of a button."
With US locations Dallas and Los Angeles already locked in as launch sites, Australia, Brazil, France, India and Japan were announced as the international candidates at Uber's Elevate conference in Tokyo on Thursday.
“This is the virtual next step in the journey to make Uber the one-stop-shop for moving people and things on demand," Uber Chief Operating Officer Barney Harford said at the conference.
For each nation listed, key cities are being considered including Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, Paris in France, Rio de Janeiro and the state of Sao Paulo in Brazil, Tokyo in Japan and Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore in India.
The company said it is already working with regulators and city planners across the five countries, including "several positive conversations" with Australian policy makers and the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
As for when customers will be taking to the skies, Uber hopes to be operating demonstrator flights by 2020 before beginning commercial operations in 2023.
What UberAir Will Look Like
While images of flying hatchbacks may spring to mind, the current designs for the UberAir vehicles remain a little closer to your typical aviation vehicle.
Uber released its first design for an eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) vehicle at its second Uber Elevate conference in May.
Capable of cruising at speeds of 240 to 320 kilometres per hour, the eCRM-003 uses eight electric powered propellers to create vertical lift, which means it won't need a long runway for take-off. Instead, the aircraft should be able to lift off from a 'Skyport', which can be built on top of buildings -- not unlike a helicopter.
“The way this has been proposed is that initially they’d be operating from six locations, heliport style locations," CASA corporate communications section manager Peter Gibson told ten daily.
"So they’d be operating in a way very similar to what helicopters can do today but with a different type of aircraft, integrating into the aviation system in a similar sort of way where you get low-flying helicopters going from A to B around cities."
Commuters will order their UberAir services through the existing ride sharing app, while the price of trips-- which should begin in a vicinity close to current Uber Black prices-- is expected to reduce over time, an Uber spokesperson told ten daily.
Getting UberAir Down Under
General Manager for Uber Australia and New Zealand Susan Anderson said UberAir would be a "gamechanger" for transport and ride sharing in Sydney and Melbourne.
"Australian Governments have led the world in recognising the benefits of ridesharing and this progressive approach sets a strong foundation for the next generation of innovation," she said in a statement.
"For this vision to become a reality we will need to plan ahead in partnership with cities and regulators to ensure we create an urban aviation ride share network that is safe, environmentally conscious and supports multi-modal transport options."
Gibson said Uber while Uber have pitched a general concept of the initiative, a more detailed conversation will need to be had before Sydney or Melbourne can be chosen to adopt the service.
“There are many safety issues which will have to be addressed," he said.
"Obviously the management of the airspace, how these vehicles would integrate into the airspace with other aircrafts...the certification of these new types of aircrafts themselves that will have do to be done overseas and recognised here in Australia."
While Gibson says the current "step by step" approach the ride share company is currently taking is sensible, their plans to eventually transport passengers using completely autonomous aircrafts has has a much longer way to go before it's a reality.