Uber chief product officer Jeff Holden discussed how long it will be before your ride arrives by air rather than on the road on day two of Web Summit in Lisbon.
According to Holden, helicopters are not optimised for this task so a new vehicle is being developed for Uber Air, with propellers and fixed wings for cruising and the ability to transition between vertical take-off and horizontal transport.
If any single part fails, the aircraft can still fly and the noise will be reduced significantly, hopefully to less than a quarter, by several small rotors to get rid of the combustion engine and signature low frequency impulse sound. There will be four passenger seats for an Uber Pool experience with enough space for a personal bag.
The aim is for the service, which already has 60,000 users ready to push the button to try it, is to be cheaper than driving a car and ten times more energy efficient than helicopters.
Uber has also announced a real estate sky port partnership, with plans to put several more sites by 2020. Following rewatching the original Blade Runner, which shows flying cars in Los Angeles in 2019, Holden said this would be a reality by 2020, “flying over Uber traffic”. Therefore, by the 2020 Olympics, the transportation will be available.
Holden also discussed the firm’s partnership with NASA, working on airspace management as their will be much more air traffic: “it needs a foundational reboot”.