While it’s 2018 and we’re still yet to see a legitimate jetpack streaking across the sky, Uber are putting some serious chips down on the future of transport taking place over our heads – and they’ve got some legit designs for skyports to house their flying taxis.
For a quick catch-up, in late 2016, Uber released a whitepaper outlining their plans to eliminate traffic jams and slash commute times: “A network of small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically (called VTOL aircraft for Vertical Take-off and Landing, and pronounced vee-tol)”.
The idea is that these VTOL aircraft “will enable rapid, reliable transportation between suburbs and cities and, ultimately, within cities”.
At this stage, the company plan to call the business UberAIR and have “the goals of operating demonstrator flights starting in 2020 and beginning commercial operations in 2023”. Dallas and Los Angeles have been named as the first two cities to receive the service, with Uber currently seeking a third, non-US city as well.
UberAIR will very much be a ride-sharing service in that people will not be dropped off at their homes. Instead, Uber are calling it a node-to-node means of transport, meaning you’ll got from skyport to skyport, then need to get home via the usual means.
To further help move their plan from whitepaper to blue sky, the ride-share company set up an annual conference called Elevate, the second of which has just wrapped up in Los Angeles.
During proceedings, six firms presented designs from which the VTOL could operate. Their brief was to create a port that could handle 4000 passengers an hour, give the VTOL a place to recharge between flights, and only had a three-acre footprint.
And, as you may have noticed by the lead image, these things look crazy futuristic.