Uber to start testing flying cars in Dallas, Dubai by 2020
27 April 2017
With flying cars a big buzz on the transport front, Uber announced on Thursday that it will begin testing such cars within the next three years, and that the testing will take place in Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai for a start.
Uber had revealed last September that the company was entertaining the idea of launching some type of vehicle that could enable it to transport customers in the sky rather than on the road. The flying vehicles would be of the VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) variety, it had said.
Announced the news of the impending tests in Dallas, Uber said it is entering into partnerships with various companies to get the foundation for this testing in place. Both Dubai and the Dallas-Fort Worth region are on board for letting Uber test its flying vehicles, which will take place by the year 2020.
This comes hard on the heels of startup Kitty Hawk, backed by Google founder Larry Page, announcing its first flying vehicle that it says may hit retail stores by the end of this year. The company's president, Sebastian Thrun, sent out a tweet on Monday with a link that shows the vehicle prototype in action (See: Kitty Hawk 2.0: Flying car may hit market as early as year-end).
For Uber, the move is an ambitious one, as it has also been dedicating considerable resources towards the development of its own self-driving car fleet. While cars on the road won't be going away any time soon, cities have a growing problem with congested roads and long commute times, something that causes, among other things, environmental harm as masses of cars idle on the road.
Uber has long positioned its service as a way to help address these issues - rather than someone taking their own vehicle, they can utilize a Uber car, which can transport many people to their destinations in a single day. The benefits in this regard improve with things like Uber's carpooling feature, allowing multiple customers to share the same vehicle.
Still, growing cities will need to develop new ways to handle the number of drivers that need to get around, and that may be achieved by taking to the skies. Previously, Uber indicated that its VTOL flying vehicles may be able to travel at more than 100 mph, operate quietly due to electric motors, and travel more than 200 passenger-miles on what works out to the equivalent of a single gallon of fuel.
Whether battery technology will be sufficiently developed within three years to sustain these vehicles is yet to be seen.