Uber takes off
Within a few years, you might be hailing an Uber air taxi for your next commute. Uber has been investing a considerable amount of resources into the eVOTL vehicles - short for electric vertical take-off and landing. At the Elevate summit in Los Angeles Uber's relatively new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, mentioned he wasn't totally convinced of this idea at first. Think about it - deploying a commercial set of aircrafts for rides around the city seems like a liability nightmare for a CEO - but if anyone can pull it off it's Uber.
“For me, the aha moment came when I started understanding that Uber isn’t just about cars,” Khosrowshahi said. “Ultimately, where we want to go is about urban mobility and urban transport, and being a solution for the cities in which we operate.”
Uber has come a long way from when it first started. Many don't remember - but initially, people couldn't fathom stepping into a stranger's car for a ride. People felt comfortable and safe with Yellow Taxi. Now, with Uber reaching on average around 5.5 million rides per day some people have even sold their vehicles and just use Uber to commute around the city. As far as Yellow Taxi - it's now synonymous with a fossil. Check out this article to see how hard life is for taxi drivers… Once Uber's vision is reached, Uber says it will be cheaper than owning a vehicle, on a per passenger, per mile basis, as well as autonomous. However, similar to Uber's autonomous program, at launch pilots will obviously be in the cockpit.
In order for Uber Elevate to be successful, there are many caveats that still need to be figured out. For example, skyports for them to land on and charge, as well building the actual vehicles to ensure they are quiet in the cities. Uber understands they can't pull this off alone and has established partnerships with companies like Karem Aircraft and Embraer. Gannett Felming and Corgan are assisting in developing the skyports. At this point, there are something like 70 companies working on eVTOLs for deployment in Uber’s air taxi network.