With all the technological advancement there’s been over the last couple of decades - smartphones, tablets, high-speed internet etc. - one predicted technology that’s yet to make an appearance is flying cars. However that could soon be set to change as Uber is planning to test a series of flying taxis by 2020. The incredibly successful taxi-hailing service has said that it will test flying vehicles by 2020 with plans for full-scale operations by 2023.
“Urban aviation is a natural next step for Uber…We are working to make ‘push a button, get a flight’ a reality.” said Uber’s chief product officer, Jeff Holden when speaking about the company’s plans.
Uber’s plans for flying taxis comes amidst a series of management problems for the California-based company, who have invested millions into developing their own self-driving technology over the last few years. Unlike that venture however; Uber is working with partners in the aviation industry in order to make its vision of flying taxis a reality.
Not dissimilar to Amazon’s new drone delivery service, Uber’s flying taxis will take off and land vertically, eliminating the need for a runway. They will also be all-electric - making them quieter as well as environmentally friendly. The idea is for the vehicles to be fully autonomous after being piloted by human pilots initially while the technology is still being tested. Making the vehicles autonomous will help to reduce costs and keep the service competitive.
Uber is not the only company who is investing in flying vehicle technology though. There has been a lot of interest and investment from Silicon Valley. Kitty Hawk - a company that’s working on the first flying car for consumers has received a lot of significant investment recently, including from Google co-founder, Larry Page.
With more cars on the road than ever, road safety has becoming an increasingly concerning issue. Uber’s and others’ push to get vehicles into the air will hopefully help to alleviate the problem of over-populated roads and make travel by taxi more convenient as well as safer.
Many taxi firms are currently struggling due to the rising cost of taxi fleet insurance and the highly competitive nature of the industry. If Uber’s tests prove to be successful then it’s likely that many taxi firms will adopt the technology as it becomes more mainstream and affordable.