Uber has announced that it will have flying cars in Los Angeles by 2020 via its “Uber Elevate” plan.
Speaking at the Web Summit in Portugal, Uber’s product design officer Jeff Holden said the company is now planning to pilot its flying ride-sharing in Los Angeles, in addition to the original pilot cities Dallas Fort-Worth and Dubai.
Uber has signed an agreement with NASA to build an air traffic control system for its vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
To show how it will work, Uber released a concept video in which a woman books a ride and then heads to the top of a skyscraper to board the aircraft.
As you can see, the VTOL more closely resemble a helicopter and plane hybrid than an actual car with wings (sorry Delorean fans). Also, in the future, everything will look like it’s been run through an Instagram filter apparently.
Before we get too excited, we should remember that there are some major hurdles for Uber to overcome before this becomes a reality.
VTOL craft don’t actually exist yet, and there are tonnes of regulatory and safety concerns that need to be navigated. Heck, governments have trouble even dealing with drones, so imagine what will happen when VTOL start buzzing around.
But Uber isn’t alone in its flying car ambitions, so it may happen eventually. Major aviation companies Boeing and Airbus are getting in on the action and Kitty Hawk, Google founder Larry Page’s startup, is even having a go.
Holden told The Verge that the decision to expand into LA was due to the cities famous traffic problems.
“It’s one of the most congested cities in the world today,” he said.
“They essentially have no mass transit infrastructure. This type of approach allows us to very inexpensively deploy a mass transit method that actually doesn’t make traffic worse.”
But flying isn’t the only solution to traffic problems.
Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2016
Serial entrepreneur and world-changer Elon Musk is looking in the opposite direction for a solution, by digging into the ground. His Boring Company is investigating the possibility of using tunnels and high-speed trains to fix traffic.
Musk says that as long as we have laws of physics, flying cars will need to create a lot of downward force which will result in noise and the possibility of falling debris.
“Obviously, I like flying things,” Musk told Bloomberg.
“But it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution.”