LISBON, Portugal (NBC News) — Uber is making the leap from roads to the air as it hopes to take ridesharing to a whole new level.
On Wednesday the company announced it planned to create a flying taxi called UberAIR that could provide relief for congested roads. The sleek, helicopter-like machine’s design was unveiled at a technology conference in Portugal. The vehicle has both fixed wings and rotors.
“This all electric bad boy flies 150 to 200 miles an hour,” said Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden. “It ranges up to 60 miles in a single battery charge at launch time for us, and you can imagine what this does to commutes. You can imagine the gnarliest commutes — hour, hour-and-a-half, two hours on the ground — becoming just a handful of minutes in the air. That’s pretty exciting.”
The company hopes to start demonstration flights by 2018 and have it available for ridesharing in at least Los Angeles by 2020. However, authorities must first certify the vehicle, pilots must be trained and the company will have to help develop urban air traffic management systems.
As for the cost — Holden says the company wants to get to the point where it’s “less expensive than driving your own car. Like literally pushing a button and getting a flight becomes cheaper than driving your own car.” To start, he estimates it will cost about the same as an UberX trip on the ground. UberX is Uber’s private car-type service, with more strict vehicle requirements. According to Uber’s website, a ride from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to the Capitol is estimated to be between $21 and $27.