At the Web Summit in Portugal on Wednesday, Uber announced that flying cars – and UberAir – will be a reality by 2020.
Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden also announced during the conference that Los Angeles and Dallas will be the first two cities to try out Uber’s flying vehicles. Holden predicts that LA locals will likely be making “heavy use” of UberAir during the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympics.
“Technology will allow LA residents to literally fly over the city’s historically bad traffic, giving them time back to use in far more productive ways. At scale, we expect UberAir will perform tens of thousands of flights each day across the city,” Holden said, USA Today reported.
Uber has also signed an agreement with NASA to produce a specialized air traffic control network to prevent mid-air accidents.
“UberAir will be performing far more flights over cities on a daily basis than has ever been done before. Doing this safely and efficiently is going to require a foundational change in airspace management technologies,” Holden said.
In a special effects video shown to conference attendees called “Closer Than You Think,” a woman is shown going to an Uber Skyport on the roof of a tall building. The woman requests an UberAir flight through her app and gets on a piloted electric plane with three other passengers. The plane takes off vertically like a helicopter.
The video shows that a ride in UberAir from Los Angeles International Airport to the downtown Staples Center, which typically takes an hour and 20 minutes on the road, only takes 27 minutes in the sky.
Uber has also signed an agreement with Los Angeles’ Sandstone Properties, a real estate investment company, to develop Skyport take-off and landing terminals. Sandstone already has 20 buildings in LA that UberAir could use.
Another alternative to beating ground-level traffic is presented by Tesla, but looks in the opposite direction to UberAir.
In 2017, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk started a new infrastructure and tunnel construction company called The Boring Company, which plans to drill tunnels beneath cities to serve as transportation alternatives.
“To solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic, roads must go 3-D, which means either flying cars or tunnels. Unlike flying cars, tunnels are weatherproof, out of sight and won’t fall on your head,” The Boring Co. website says.