This week, something we’ve been waiting for all our lives became a reality. At least, that’s the hype coming from one of the co-founders of Google, who unveiled a prototype for a flying car. This flying car may not be like what George Jetson used to zip around in – it looks a bit more like a fishing net with swamp boat fans, and it can only be used over water. For now, we’re still waiting on the flying cars of our dreams, but against this backdrop comes another promise.
The folks at Uber, who brought us the ride-hailing app, promise to start a test program for flying cars in Dallas and Dubai by 2020.
Mark Moore, who’s leading the aviation engineering project for Uber, says this method of transportation could be more economical than enduring the morning commute solo.
“During the peak hours an Uber on the ground gets stuck in traffic just like anyone else so it takes a long time,” Moore says. “If you take Uber Air than it’s a very very fast trip and that is these vehicles are traveling faster than 150 miles per hour.”
Though the prospect sounds far-fetched, Moore says the technology required to implement this service already exists.
“We don’t call them flying cars though,” Moore says. “In fact, we hate that term because people think that’s a car with wings. What we’re talking about is an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft.”
Moore says the program would work similarly to the way the Uber app works now.
“You’ll open up the app, there’ll be several options whether that’s UberX, UberXL, but there’ll also be an Uber Sky or Uber Air option,” Moore says. “You would select that option and let’s say that, like me, you’re about a mile away from Dallas vertiport or one of the other 25 different vertiports that will be located around Dallas. [An] Uber car will come up, take you to that closest vertiport, drop you off and you’ll get on the Uber Air and be able to fly across town in just a few minutes to create a seamless door-to-door type of experience.”
The process sounds too good to be true, but Moore says the actual implementation shouldn’t be much bumpier. Moore says the company hopes will work in partnership with both NASA and the FAA so that any kinks in the plan can be worked out long before the cars hit the streets – er, skies.
“The FDA and NASA have a joint research center for airspace located at the DFW [airport], so it lets us do early air space experiments to prove out that we won’t have traffic jams in the sky,” Moore says. “There’s some new air space technologies that we need to employ and that’s why we want this partnership with the FAA on the airspace side that can let us really have great service in the air.”
Written by Morgan O’Hanlon.