Uber published a whitepaper that outlined its plans for global on-demand aviation. The network of small, electric aircraft – called VTOL for Vertical Take-off and Landing -- would provide rapid transportation in the air to avoid the transportation congestion on the ground.
While there is no current vehicle available, Uber said the aircraft would need to be designed for 150-200 mph cruise speeds and one-minute take offs and landings. The company states helicopters are the closest current-day aircraft similar to what is described, but today’s helicopters are too inefficient.
Uber expects as this grows in popularity, it could “radically improve urban mobility,” giving people more time as they aren’t sitting in traffic. The company also sees it as less expensive than the heavy-cost of infrastructure, such as rail, bridges and roads. Long-term, they see VTOLs as “an affordable form of daily mass transit” – even less expensive than owning a personal car.
Uber acknowledges the plans are ambitious and lays out the barriers, including the certification process of aircraft, battery technology, vehicle efficiency, vehicle performance and reliability, air traffic control, cost, safety, noise, emissions and pilot training.
The publication of the whitepaper was the first step in completing the vision of on-demand aviation. Uber is looking to convene a global Elevate Summit to bring together key stakeholders in early 2017. The summit would bring together VTOL manufacturers, regulators, developers, and other public and private stakeholders to explore the issues and solutions to make Uber Elevate a reality.
View the whitepaper at masstransitmag.com/12274284