High hopes for flying cars

Uber plans to deliver flying cars to commuters within a decade through a network of on-demand electric aircraft.

It’s published a white paper outlining the objectives of a new project called Uber Elevate, which reveals plans for the development of  Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft  which it says could turn a two-hour drive into a 15-minute trip.

Travelling at speeds of up to 150mph with a range of 100 miles, the first VTOL car is expected to be ready by 2021 with full roll-out scheduled for 2026.

Uber, which plans to make the project a reality with support from private companies and the government, says the project will have ‘significant cost advantages’ over other transportation solutions such as further development of the road infrastructure.

It says that, eventually, the planes will be self-flying, with zero emissions and cheaper to own than a car.

However, Uber said, ‘We do not expect that VTOLs deployed on ridesharing networks will be owned by individuals, as they will be significantly more expensive and more complicated to operate than cars,’ Uber said. ‘As such, rideshare operators like Uber will be able to specify the on-trip experience to a degree similar to that of self-driving cars, even for piloted VTOLs.’

Users will hail the flying cars via smartphones but will only be collected at designated hubs.

Airbus Group also has plans to offer a flying taxi service. Called Vahana, it says it could go live in selected markets as early as 2020.