We may be a little behind on Back to the Future’s prediction that we’d have fully functional flying cars by 2015, but Uber is starting to make some serious inroads into making that fantasy a reality, albeit ten or so years late.
The rideshare giant has chosen to reveal its latest prototype flying vehicle at a summit in Los Angeles yesterday. The second annual ‘Elevate Summit’ brings together 700+ of the world’s foremost on-demand aviation leaders in industry, government, and academia for 2 full days of presentations exploring the promising future of urban aviation.
The four rotors on the top of the vehicle and one on the back to propel it forward make this look like one big flying drone in itself. And like a drone, the vehicle will be able to take off vertically using VTOL (vertical take-off and landing).
Uber’s goal is to create a huge network of ‘Skyports’ which users will be able to travel in between via these flying vehicles. The vehicles should be able to carry four people plus a pilot, like that of a normal car. Yes, initially they will require pilots to operate them, however Uber does have plans to phase in autonomous flying technology in the near future, which I’m sure will worry a few people who are scared enough of flying as it is.
While we’re talking safety, Uberair’s abstract paper reveals that UBer believes “VTOL aircraft need to be safer than driving a car on a fatalities-per-passenger-mile basis. Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 135 operations (for commuter and on-demand flights), on average, have twice the fatality rate of privately operated cars, but we believe this rate can be lowered for VTOL aircraft at least to one-fourth of the average Part 135 rate, making VTOLs twice as safe as driving.”
Of course that’s a good thing, but it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence right?
Whilst the new concept is of course still only in the design stage, Uber is confident it can have taxis flying over both Los Angeles and Dallas by 2023. Who could say when us Aussies will get a piece of the action, but I’m sure you’ll either be really hanging out for a ride or alternatively, staying as far away from these things as possible.
No word yet on when we’ll be seeing flying Deloreans.