Friday, 23 August, 2019

Uber to trial its air taxis in Melbourne

Uber Elevate set to take off in Australia with flying taxi trial in Melbourne Flying Uber trial to take place in Melbourne from 2020
Russell Knight | 12 June, 2019, 08:03

Uber Air has named Melbourne as one of three cities where it will test its flying cars venture.

The first test city, originally planned to be Dubai, will now be Melbourne, Australia, as the company announced today.

Regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia Susan Anderson said the move was possible because of forward-thinking Australian governments.

This week, Uber announced it was adding new aircraft partners to the program, including Pennsylvania-based Jaunt Air Mobility, which will produce a rotor- and fixed-wing light aircraft.

"As major cities grow, the heavy reliance on private auto ownership will not be sustainable", said Eric Allison, global head of the firm's aviation division Uber Elevate.

"The 19km journey from the CBD to Melbourne airport can take anywhere from 25 minutes to around an hour by auto in peak hour, but with Uber Air this will take around 10 minutes", Allison said.

It's expected that a 19km trip from the CBD to Melbourne Airport will take about 10 minutes with Uber Air, compared to up to an hour by vehicle.

The company is on track to start testing the flying taxi service next year before the commercial deployment for the public in 2023.

In Melbourne, Uber is working with Westfield shopping centres owner Scentre Group, which has seven centres in the city, to help deliver its service.

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"This, coupled with Melbourne's unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the ideal third launch city for Uber Air".

While the company looks to deploy air taxis and its corresponding infrastructure by 2023, Uber believes that the air taxi will eventually become cheaper than driving a vehicle.

The Uber Air service is created to work in tandem with Uber's vehicle service as a "multimodal" option that helps speed passengers to their destinations.

Called Uber Copter, the service will launch on July 9 and offer helicopter rides between Lower Manhattan and Kennedy International Airport.

A concept for Uber's electric "flying taxi" project, due to launch in Melbourne in 2020.

"But helicopters are too noisy, inefficient, polluting and expensive for mass-scale use".

Uber is not the only company experimenting with flying taxis, reminiscent of the mode of transport in the American cartoon "The Jetsons".

The trial of the Uber Air service will involve a radical new type of aircraft - a drone-like piloted, electric vertical take-off and landing passenger vehicle designed by Uber's manufacturing partners, including Boeing and Bell Helicopters.

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