Published: Thu, June 13, 2019
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Melbourne to lead Uber Air pilot

Melbourne to lead Uber Air pilot

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

Testing is set to begin in 2020, with further testing allegedly happening in Dallas and Los Angeles in 2023.

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said earlier Tuesday that the helicopters will eventually be replaced "by a generation of electrically powered vertical takeoff and landing vehicles".

Uber Air expects to expand into other Australian cities. A 12-mile journey between Melbourne's CBD and main airport can take as much as an hour during peak hour.

Melbourne will be the third city in the world to trial a new app-hailed Uber service that transports people by air, in a step Victoria says will cement the city's innovation credentials.

However, according to LiveMint, the Uber Elevate team is already in talking terms with the aviation authorities and a few state governments in India and the launch of the services look promising as of now.

"Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology", said Susan Anderson, Uber's manager for the region that includes Australia.

A number of aviation companies are now prototyping vertical take-off and land (VTOL) aircraft - essentially helicopters - to be used as part of the Uber Air service.

"While a driverless auto would be faced with obstacles on the road like pedestrians on their mobile phones or other vehicles like trams and buses, aerial autonomous vehicles don't have these obstructions", he said.

To get the service off the ground, Uber has partnered with Macquarie, Telstra, the owner and operator of Westfield malls, Scentre Group and Melbourne Airport.

Uber is partnering with Signature Flight Support - who operates a number of private aviation terminals - for places to land the air taxi vehicles at airports. Uber Copter will also include pickup and drop-off vehicle service to either the heliport near the Staten Island Ferry or to a helipad near Terminal 8 at Kennedy airport. Earlier, the company chose the Dubai, UAE as their first global test site but changed it over the delays in the rollout of the program in the Middle-Eastern city.

Photos of the mock-up design for the Uber flying taxi are posted below, without any propulsion systems attached.

"Our vision is that on a daily basis it'll be more economically rational for you to fly than for you to drive", Allison said.

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