Ride-sharing company Uber is headed for the skies. Despite stock prices dropping by about 15%, the company has announced plans to test its first taxi plane in 2020.
Jeff Holden, Chief Product Officer at Uber, admits that this new venture will be a challenge. The company has been struggling to repair their public image ever since multiple reports of sexual harassment surfaced.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Holden stated. “This isn’t going to be easy.”
If successful, this new form of transportation could significantly reduce traffic congestion and make for much shorter commute times. So how fast are they? According to Business Insider, the planes will transport passengers at 150 m.p.h.
Put another way, a two-hour drive from San Francisco to downtown San Jose would be reduced to just 15 minutes using the taxi plane. Better yet, since the planes are 100% electric, they will have zero emissions.
The aircrafts are part of a new initiative called Uber Elevate. The goal is to create an on-demand network of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicles.
“It’s push a button and get a flight,” Holden explained. “We think we can start this for roughly the cost of UberX.”
But Uber isn’t building the aircrafts themselves; that task has been delegated to their business partners which include Aurora Flight Sciences, Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer, Mooney, and Bell Helicopter. The planes are being specially designed to be less noisy than a helicopter.
“The Uber Elevate mission is all about low noise, high reliability, and low cost,” said John Langford, CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences. “We have already built and flown the first proof-of-concept aircraft and we’re excited to partner with Uber in accelerating the eVTOL initiative.”
The planes are scheduled to make their first public debut at the world’s fair in Dubai in 2020.