In brief: Uber has picked a third test city to host trials of its flying taxi service. Unlike its previous two choices, this one isn’t in the US.
The UberAIR service, which uses electric jet-powered vehicles that can be booked through the Uber app for prices similar to UberX’s, is set to begin test flights next year. Dallas and Los Angeles are two of the trial locations, and while Dubai had been chosen as a non-US test site, launch delays caused UberAIR to look elsewhere. After considering Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paris, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Tokyo, and Sydney, Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, was chosen.
Susan Anderson, Uber’s Regional General Manager in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia, told Reuters that Melbourne was chosen because “Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology.”
“This, coupled with Melbourne’s unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the perfect third launch city for UberAir,” she added.
Following the 2020 trials, UberAir’s commercial operations are set to begin in 2023. The vertical-take-off-and-landing vehicles will fly between a network of rooftop landing pads called Skyports, helping to reduce ground traffic congestion while lowering travel times.
In Melbourne, test flights will run from one of seven Westfield shopping centers to the city's main international airport. The 12-mile trip normally takes around 25 minutes in a car but should be completed in just 10 minutes by air.
It might be a while before we can ride in Uber's flying vehicles, but the company will start offering a helicopter service in New York next month, which will take passengers on an eight-minute journey between Lower Manhattan and Kennedy International Airport for between $200 and $225 per person.