Advertisement

CES 2019: Uber planning flying taxis in 3 cities next year — VIDEO

Bookmark this
January 09, 2019 By Mick Akers

Soon the skies above urban areas could look like a scene straight out of the Jetsons.

The feasibility of flying taxis becoming the next big thing in urban transportation is a buzz at this year’s CES.

Multiple conferences and booths dealing with flying cars are present at this year’s gathering of technology companies, the city’s largest annual trade show by volume.

None are getting more attention than a test project that ride hailing giant Uber and aircraft manufacturer Bell are ready to launch as early as next year.
 


Part of its “elevate aviation” initiative, Uber, along with Bell, plans to operate a network of small, electric aircraft in three cities — Los Angeles, Dallas and an unnamed international city — in 2020, with around 10-12 aircraft in each market, according to Tom Prevot, director of airspace systems at Uber Elevate.

“These are going to be flights under an experimental certificate,” he said. “There we can prove out those vehicle technologies and we will then scale through simulated flights, so we can test the air space properly.”

Uber plans to further roll out the program commercially in 2023, beefing up the number of aircraft in each city to 50, with the number rising into the hundreds and higher as the program progresses.

“We feel it needs to be a large-scale operation to really make it successful and affordable for everybody” Prevot said.

Prevot believes the timeline is realistic, especially with companies like Bell, with its “Bell Nexus” aircraft model, which was unveiled Tuesday at CES, involved.

“We believe that is very reasonable,” said Matt Michael Thacker, vice president, technology and innovation at Bell. “Whether its 2023 or 2025, we believe that a certified operation is realistic in the mid-2020s.”

Bell’s Nexus aircraft is about the same size as a traditional helicopter, but is configured differently, making it quieter and more environmentally sound. Instead of one large rotor, like a traditional helicopter, the Nexus features six ducts around the aircraft, which minimizes noise.

“The No. 1 driver for noise on rotorcraft is the tip speed. The larger the blade, the faster it rotates, the higher the noise,” Thacker said. “By dividing that down into six rotating systems within the ducts, it brings down the tip speed, which gives you a magnitude reduction in noise, making it safer and quieter.”

The flying vehicle would allow four-person ridesharing flights in densely populated urban markets. The aircraft will travel at speeds between 150-200 mph, which will allow riders to cut down on their daily travel time.

The planned price for the first commercial operation of uberAIR has yet to be determined, but is likely going to be much higher than any service the company currently offers. After the commercialization of the system grows and more aircraft are in use, the ultimate goal is to get the price to about 50 cents per passenger mile.

“As the technologies are substantiated and we get to the scale of thousands of vehicles in the system, the price will come down and get into that (50 cents per passenger mile) range,” Thacker said.

The flying taxis will take off and land from predetermined areas called vertiports.

Located in high volume areas in cities, the goal is to have them in a space where people already are.

“Some are near sports stadiums and other community events centers and those are great locations,” Thacker said. “In the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area, we’ve been working with a developer. As they develop new living communities with shopping centers, hospitals and living areas, they’re integrating into that the idea of a vertiport as one of the hubs of commerce in that city.”

The initial flights will feature a pilot, but the end goal is for the uberAIR service to operate autonomously.

Adding additional cities to the initial three, like Las Vegas, is a possibility, depending on how the initial launch plays out, Prevot said.

“We’re looking at all possible cities in the long run, but we picked Dallas and Los Angeles to start out as early adapters because they have a lot of the right properties that we’re looking for,” Prevot said. “Other cities potentially have those properties as well and eventually we operate this in any of the urban areas, and Las Vegas is certainly one of them.”

As with automobiles, congestion could present an issue once the system is up and running and hundreds to thousands of flying vehicles are above cities.

Air congestion has more possible solutions, as the aircraft aren’t bound by roads and streets that are in place, Thacker said.

“By going to the third dimension and opening new pathways than what exist on the ground today, we can alleviate that opportunity and make the cities more mobile and livable, making for a high quality of life,” he said.


Recent Articles

Get Locked Down in Vegas' #1 Escape Room

Get Locked Down in Vegas' #1 Escape Room

in Sponsored Content, Best Of News

It’s not just about solving the problems in one hour or less, but testing the visitors problem-solving skills, mental finesse and intelligence.

December 13, 2019 By Lockdown Escape Rooms

SeaQuest brings unique creatures to community

SeaQuest brings unique creatures to community

in Sponsored Content, Best Of News

Located at the Boulevard Mall in Las Vegas, SeaQuest contains thousands of marine, desert, rain forest, amphibian, and reptilian animals to see, touch, feed and discover.

December 11, 2019 By SeaQuest

California woman wins $204,671 at Las Vegas Strip resort

California woman wins $204,671 at Las Vegas Strip resort

in News

A California woman hit a $204,671 jackpot at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Friday evening

December 4, 2019 By Glenn Puit

5 great holiday gifts that benefit Las Vegas nonprofits

5 great holiday gifts that benefit Las Vegas nonprofits

in News

In the season of giving, give well. When shopping for loved ones, it can be easy to find products that make great gifts and benefit local organizations that are working to support people and public lands.

December 4, 2019 By Janna Karel

Advertisement

Must Read Articles

Sand Dollar Lounge transformed into Christmas ‘Miracle’

Sand Dollar Lounge transformed into Christmas ‘Miracle’

in News

It’s shortly before 3 a.m. Monday, and the Sunday night shift is winding down at the Sand Dollar Lounge. The band wrapped up its final set nearly an hour earlier, and the crowd has left for the night.

November 26, 2019 By Al Mancini

Holiday attractions and events around the Las Vegas Valley

Holiday attractions and events around the Las Vegas Valley

in News

A list of some attractions and events happening this holiday season.

November 26, 2019 By Madelon Hynes

Digging begins for Las Vegas Convention Center people-mover system

Digging begins for Las Vegas Convention Center people-mover system

in Future Las Vegas, News

With the flip of a switch Friday, Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown may have turned on a new era of transportation technology.

November 15, 2019 By Richard N. Velotta

Advertisement