Ride-hailing company Uber wants to be able to fly you to work and back—or anywhere else in the city—within about a decade. The company is researching how to use helicopter-like aircraft to pick customers up, with landing pads potentially on top of buildings. This will definitely work without a single problem. Totally.
Uber products head Jeff Holden said the company is researching vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, according to Recode:
Holden said that he has been researching the area, “so we can someday offer our customers as many options as possible to move around.” He added that “doing it in a three-dimensional way is an obvious thing to look at.”
Holden said the technology could be in use within a decade, echoing the overly optimistic tone that Lyft’s boss had toward an elimination of private car ownership in cities by 2025. Recode also mentioned that Uber’s aircraft could eventually be autonomous and powered by batteries, but did not credit the statement to Holden or Uber.
Despite the optimism, Recode did not report that Holden said how any of this would be done—other than potentially landing on top of buildings. Systems would have to be put in place as to keep aircraft from crossing paths, and with how tight airport security is in the U.S., what kind of guidelines—if any—would be placed upon boarding smaller aircraft in congested areas to eliminate threat?
Like fully autonomous cars, allowing ride-hailing aircraft to fly within cities would likely require new legislation. That, as we’ve known it to do, can delay the technology up to several years after it’s fully developed. Recode also makes no mention of whether Holden talked about areas that the company would target for use of this kind of technology, though removing traffic congestion in cities was a heavy theme.
With the pushes toward an elimination of private-car ownership in cities that Holden said Uber supports, this could be a pretty glamorous alternative—if Uber or any other company can tell us how they’re planning to do it. But at the same time, it brings forth a mental picture of freaky, futuristic sci-fi landscapes for cities may not be far off.