In brief: It’s still going to be a while before we see fleets of flying autonomous Uber vehicles populating the skies, but the ride-hailing giant will reportedly start offering another air-based service as soon as next month: Uber Copter.
The New York Times reports that the helicopter service will start in New York City on July 9. Rides can be booked using the Uber app, but as this is a helicopter and not a car, customers will have to settle for a predetermined route: an eight-minute journey between Lower Manhattan and Kennedy International Airport. The service will only be available to the top-tier Platinum and Diamond Uber Rewards members.
Dynamic pricing means the cost will change depending on demand, but the average ride is expected to be between $200 and $225 per person. Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, said: “This is a trip that so many travelers make a day, and we see an opportunity to save them a huge amount of time on it.”
The helicopters hold up to five people and can be booked on demand or up to five days in advance. They will be operated by the Heliflite charter service.
Allison added that the company plans to roll out Uber Copter to other cities eventually.
Following the formation of Uber Elevate three years ago, the company unveiled its flying taxi prototype last year. Officials say the autonomous vehicles will fly at 1,000 to 2,000 feet above the ground and be quieter than helicopters. Uber plans to begin testing in 2020 ahead of a public roll-out in Dallas and Los Angeles by 2023.
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