Uber took a step forward towards on-demand air taxis this week when partner company Bell Helicopter unveiled a new design of a flying car in Las Vegas. The scale model of a hybrid-electric aircraft, called Nexus, is exhibited at the Consumer Electronics Show 2019 of the city until January 11th.
Uber said the Nexus represents "an important step in its Elevate initiative to create a Uber Air network request", and shows that it is "on track for the delivery of the world's first aerial air-sharing network in the coming years" .
With plans to test flying car projects by 2020 and launch a commercial service in 2023, Uber Air has collaborated with several aircraft manufacturers in the development of eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft. In addition to Bell Helicopter, these include Aurora's Air Flight Sciences, Pipistrel, Embraer, Mooney and Karem aircraft. Bell was the first to publicly show a full-scale model, after several other partners presented conceptual images at the Uber's annual High Summit last year, including Karem & Butterfly; Embraer & # 39; s; DreamMaker and a pipistrel bat design.
Uber Air is part of the Uber Elevate program, which aims to reduce individual car ownership and change the way people travel in urban areas, for example by sharing Uber's pool travel and Uber electric bicycles Jump. The company believes that VTOL will become "an economic form of daily transport for the masses, even less expensive than owning a car", with costs comparable to car sharing rates.
The first launch locations for flying taxis include Dallas, Los Angeles and a third position yet to be announced. A 2016 Uber report found that in Los Angeles and Sydney "residents spend seven working weeks each year, commuters, two of which are wasted unproductively stuck in a traffic jam" and that "average commute to Mumbai exceeds the incredible 90 minutes" . He expects the new air taxi service to complete some trips in a fraction of the time.
Uber is working with several real estate developers and local governments in the United States to ensure a shared network of high-volume skyports around cities. Six final skyport projects were released at the Elevate summit last year.
Without the existing technology for managing VTOL air networks, Uber worked with NASA to develop unmanned traffic management systems and concepts to enable urban aircraft to fly safely and efficiently at low altitudes.
The Uber Elevate internal team includes former NASA employees Mark Moore – who created the first VTOL at NASA – and Tom Prevot, who created the first NASA airspace system. With them there is Celina Mikolajczak, former senior battery development manager at Tesla, and Eric Allison, who developed Cora, an autopilot.
The policies and practices that Uber uses in pursuing his vision of transportation have been repeatedly challenged. In December 2018, a court rejected the company's appeal against a UK ruling that considers its workers drivers with elementary, non-autonomous rights. In the same month it was revealed that the company exerted pressure on transport secretary Chris Grayling to increase the charge of congestion, a move that would hit the poorest drivers harder.
Critics widely agree that the future of autonomous vehicles is approaching. The General Motors veterinary product development expert, Bob Lutz, wrote that "we are approaching the end of the automotive era", but the new era of air transport presents a number of new challenges.
Speaking with Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer at the Elevate summit, Dan Elwell, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, who regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the United States, said: "We are the security regulators : "I'm going to get this from a security perspective … The pace of technological progress in this sector is faster than anything we've ever had to do … When you put passengers on stand-alone vehicles, instead to deliver a package, we introduce
Several other eVTOLs are being developed around the world, including the autonomous Vabus of Airbus and the most advanced vehicle of the Chinese drone manufacturer Ehang, which has taken journalists and local dignitaries on the road in February 2018.