Last week at the Consumer Electronics Show, helicopter manufacturer Bell unveiled a model of a flying taxi the company is developing in partnership with Uber.
Bell describes its new vehicle – dubbed the Nexus – as capturing “the long-sought-after vision of quick air travel with a unique in-flight experience, keeping passengers connected to their lives and saving valuable time”.
Uber Air, an offshoot of the popular ride-sharing company with the goal of kickstarting a commercial air network by 2023, has partnered with several aircraft manufacturers to develop a fleet of flying cars, including Mooney, Karem Aircraft, Embraer, Pipistrel and Boeing’s R&D subsidiary, Aurora Flight Sciences.
At Uber’s second annual Elevate Summit in May 2018, several of these manufacturers presented some amazing concept images for their eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircrafts. Embraer showed off its slick DreamMaker, Karem Aircraft flaunted their tilting four-rotor technology in the Butterfly, and Pipistrel showcased a six-passenger craft that resembles something out of EVE Online.
Yet Bell is the first to publicly present a full-scale model.
Uber has also partnered with NASA to develop infrastructure technology and regulations like fly safety protocols, unmanned traffic systems and other requirements to implement eVTOL networks, crucial for all this to work. You can have the cars in place but with no ‘roads’, there’s still no cigar.
Dallas, Los Angeles and a third location soon to be announced will be the first cities to see these flying taxis in action.
Uber Air is part of the wider Uber Elevate programme, a plan to take over public transportation in urban areas all over the world with what it claims to be cleaner, more affordable alternatives to existing systems. Their stratagem also includes Uber Jump electric bikes and UberPool ride-sharing.