On Tuesday, Uber selected Melbourne as the first non-US city for its aerial ridesharing service, Uber Air. Melbourne is the third city selected officially for the pilot of this program joining Los Angeles and Dallas. The ambitious project is expected to launch in 2023 while flight tests to begin in 2020.
The announcement came at the Uber Elevate Summit in Washington where the California-based company offering taxi rides unveiled its partners for the Uber Air project. Uber gave more details on its vision of flying taxis as a way to reduce traffic congestion and improve mobility in urban areas.
“Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology, This, coupled with Melbourne’s unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the perfect third launch city for Uber Air. We will see other Australian cities following soon after,” said Susan Anderson, Uber’s manager for the region that includes Australia.
Uber has been adding new partners for the initiative and releasing new details ever since it announced the initiative. Uber announced the addition of aircraft partners like Jaunt Ait Mobility based out of Pennsylvania to design a rotor and fixed-wing light aircraft. Uber unveiled the design of a bespoke air taxi cabin designed in collaboration with Safran Cabin, a French engineering group.
The Uber Air services is expected to work alongside the currently available networks of cars to help increase the speed of commute for passengers. The Air option will be included in the Uber smartphone app and pool passengers into a single aircraft.
Last week in the New York City, Uber took its first step towards aerial ridesharing by offering a helicopter service that will take passengers from lower Manhattan to John F. Kennedy Airport. According to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, the helicopters will be replaced by electrically powered vertical takeoff and landing vehicles. He believes that Uber’s large user base will be instrumental in driving the demand for aerial ridesharing.
The idea is to have the vehicles made available as a means of urban transportation at a price point that is suitable for the masses. According to the Head of Uber Elevate, Eric Allison, the electric aircrafts are “surprisingly efficient” and similar to the cost of UberX service that is offered now.