Uber ahead of its second annual Uber Elevate Summit in Los Angeles on Tuesday has unveiled a prototype for its autonomous flying taxi of the future. [Image: courtesy of Embraer] Following Uber's guidance, the craft has high-mounted wings fitted with multiple small helicopter-like rotors (eight, in this case).
Once in the air, the eVTOL will switch over to fixed-wing operation with its airplanelike wings providing lift when moving horizontally and a propeller in the tail providing horizontal thrust up to a cruising speed of about 150 miles per hour (with a top speed of 200 mph). A single charge will be good enough for 60 miles of range, and Uber expects the aircraft to need just five minutes to top up the batteries between flights.
Uber's chief product officer, Jeff Holden told CBS the air taxis are still in "the design phase" and explained the technology works like a helicopter, with stacked rotors to create lift. It will be quiet, and aims to be easy and comfortable for passengers to use. While the flying vehicles would be initially flown by pilots, the company hopes to ultimately automate the process.
Uber Technologies Inc said on Tuesday it signed an agreement with USA space agency NASA to explore concepts and technologies needed for passenger and cargo air transportation within an urban area.
The taxis will take off from rooftop sky ports when requested by passengers and are meant for longer distance travel than would be reasonable in ground transportation.
Uber has become a global force in transportation with its ridesharing service, but is also working on autonomous vehicles and other forms of transport.
The service will be tested in 2020 in Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Dubai, and will launch more widely by 2028, Business Insider reported. The two-day conference brings together leaders in the aviation and technology industries as well as government stakeholders that Uber says will help them figure out the safe and right way to deploy uberAIR. Mark Moore said a new Uber Elevate white paper will be released on Wednesday.