Uber partners with five manufacturers for VTOL development
Uber is partnering up with Bell, Embraer, Aurora, Pipistrel and Mooney to accelerate its UberAIR fleet development.
The five aircraft manufacturers announced they would be partnering with the breakthrough car-sharing service for its upcoming “air taxi”project at the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas.
Uber has bought on the manufacturers to develop and deploy electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (VTOL) with autonomous capabilities for its UberAIR fleet.
The VTOLs will be used for short distance urban operations, flying passengers within and around cities in what Uber calls the “The Elevate VTOL network”. The aircraft are expected to be hybrid electric with plans to go fully electric in the future.
Following the announcements, Aurora unveiled its first eVTOL prototype at the summit. The aircraft is derived from its XV-24A X-plane currently in service with the US Department of Defense. The VTOL prototype took its first flight on 20 April.
Mark Moore, director of engineering for Uber said: “Uber is taking a big step forward toward making the world’s first VTOL network a reality and our partnership with Aurora Flight Sciences will help get us off the ground. The Elevate VTOL network will help improve urban mobility around the world and transform the way we travel.”
Uber plans to debut its first flying cars in two cities – Dallas Fort-Worth and Dubai – by 2020. The service is expected to expand its operations by 2023 according to Business Insider.
Mitch Snyder, president & CEO, Bell said: “Uber’s Elevate network is an exciting opportunity for Bell Helicopter to help transform how cities move people and products in the future. While creating a real, viable urban air taxi network isn’t going to happen tomorrow, this future is closer than many people realize. We are optimistic about the positive impact VTOLs will have on addressing transportation challenges in Dallas–Fort Worth and other cities around the globe.”
Embraer suggests that UberAIR would be a innovative solution to congested city transport, with Antonio Campello, vice president for corporate innovation.saying: “We share the vision that the state of transportation in congested cities is ripe for innovative solutions, such as on-demand aviation. Embraer’s leadership roles in commercial and business aviation were attained through the introduction of disruptive aircraft and services, and we are confident that our DNA will add value to new concepts in urban transportation as well.”