Flying taxis sound like a futuristic idea, but Uber wants to test the idea in Los Angeles by 2020. The traffic-laden city is the second city in the US, following Dallas-Fort Worth, to be selected as a test bed for UberAir’s network of air taxis.
Uber’s plan is to string together a network of electrical vertical take-off and landing vehicles, commonly called eVTOL, and make them available on-demand.
Similar to helicopters, the eVTOL aircraft would take off and land on the tops of buildings and be able to cover distances more quickly and directly compared to cars stuck in traffic on Los Angeles congested roads.
According to Uber’s own analysis, a 200-mph all electric ride across Los Angeles would be “price competitive” to an UberX ride of the same distance.
It will also be much faster than a car ride on the ground, Uber claims. In one example, Uber’s research predicts that an UberAir ride from Los Angeles International Airport to the Staples Center would take less than 30 minutes using UberAir. An UberX ride between the same distances generally lasts closer to an hour and a half.
“Just as skyscrapers allowed cities to use limited land more efficiently, urban air transportation will use three-dimensional airspace to alleviate transportation congestion on the ground,” Uber wrote in its white-paper on Uber Elevate, its name for the overall network, which it unveiled in October 2016.