Uber published a proposal detailing plans to bring flying cars to commuters by 2026.
Uber detailed plans for Uber Elevate, a network of on-demand electric aircraft, in a 98-page white paper published Oct. 28. The aircraft, known as VTOL -- or Vertical Take-Off and Landing -- would be used to fly passengers over traffic in busy cities, potentially shortening a two-hour commute to just 15 minutes.
According to Wired, Uber’s plan is more of a call to action for companies already working on VTOL travel. Rather than build the aircraft themselves, Uber will bring together government and private companies to tackle the larger issues of making the project a reality.
“The vision portrayed above is ambitious, but we believe it is achievable in the coming decade if all the key actors in the VTOL ecosystem — regulators, vehicle designers, communities, cities, and network operators — collaborate effectively,” Jeff Holden, Uber Product Chief, wrote in his summary of the proposal.
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The military already uses VTOL technology for its own aircraft, which are capable of traveling at about 150 mph for up to 100 miles with multiple passengers, including a pilot. While the first vehicles are reported to be ready by 2021, the expected roll out date is 2026.
Uber says the project will have "significant cost advantages" over other transportation initiates, repurposing existing parking garages and helipads for use rather than building new bridges or tunnels. Since planes don’t need to follow set roads or routes, Uber predicts the planes would improve commute times and reduce congestion in busy cities.
“On-demand aviation, has the potential to radically improve urban mobility, giving people back time lost in their daily commutes,” Holden writes.
“We also believe that in the long-term, VTOLs will be an affordable form of daily transportation for the masses, even less expensive than owning a car.”
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Uber isn’t the first company to see promise in VTOL technology for commercial use. According to Business Insider, VTOL company Zee.Aero has been seen performing numerous successful tests of a flying car prototype in Hollister, California. Airbus also intends to operate a flying car prototype by the end of 2017, Insider reports.
Meanwhile, Uber is still entangled in battles with regulators and rival companies worldwide. This year, Uber pulled out of Austin, Texas, over background check rules, and is facing various legal battles over the status of drivers as contractors nationwide, The Wall Street Journal Reports.
Uber’s white paper concluded with an announcement that the company intends to hold a global Elevate Summit to set the project in motion in early 2017. The future of air travel still has a long way to go for Uber’s goals to be accomplished, but Holden reports the White Paper "marks the start of that journey."