San Francisco – After upending the taxi market with its ride-hailing service, Uber Technologies is now aiming for the skies with its flying taxis.
The company expects to deploy its flying taxis in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and Dubai by 2020, Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said at the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas on Tuesday.
Uber's flying taxis will be small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically, or VTOLs, with zero emissions and quiet enough to operate in cities.
Flying taxis would cut down travel time between San Francisco's Marina to downtown San Jose to 15 minutes, compared with the more than two hours it takes by road, Uber estimates.
In an early scale operation, the company can get to $1.32 per passenger mile (about R10.80 per kilometre), a little higher than taking an UberX for a similar distance, Holden said.
In the longer term, Uber expects the cost of taking flying taxis to fall below car ownership.
The company is working with Hillwood Properties to make four vertiports – VTOL hubs with multiple takeoff and landing pads, and charging infrastructure – in Dallas starting next year, Holden said.
Uber has also teamed up with companies such as Bell Helicopter, Aurora, Pipistrel, Mooney and Embraer to make the flying taxis.