There is a saying that the sky’s the limit and App-based cab service provider Uber has now set its eyes to the skies. In a white paper published this week, the company has given detailed plans for Uber Elevate, its new division for offering rides through flying cars, according to a report. The company is now hoping to have the program up and roll it out within a decade. “Imagine traveling from San Francisco’s Marina (district) to work in downtown San Jose — a drive that would normally occupy the better part of two hours — in only 15 minutes,” Jeff Holden, Uber’s chief product officer, and Nikhil Goel, the company’s product manager for Uber Elevate and advanced programs, said in the white paper, according to a report. “…imagine reducing your 90-plus-minute stop-and-go commute from Gurgaon to your office in central New Delhi to a mere six minutes,” they wrote.
The company said that with more people in the air, the move can ease out the burden on the roads in heavily congested areas.
The company acknowledges that there are challenges for getting this project off the ground. As opposed to using helicopters, which are expensive and noisy, the company will instead be relying on VTOLs, or “a network of small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically.”
The VTOLs are cheaper and quieter, and their electronic basis also means they will be better for the environment than the gas-powered helicopters. Battery technology still needs to improve, and as these are flying vehicles, the company notes, there will need to be some air-traffic control mechanism in place. These vehicles also will need properly trained pilots at the controls, at least until they too become self-driving.
Plus there’s the economics. This type of flying aircraft, which is already being developed by a variety of companies including Joby Aviation, Zee.Aero and Airbus, will be pricey initially, though Uber anticipates that with scale it will drop. For the consumer, it sees prices starting out high but dropping over time due to its Uber Pool system.