Fast forwarding to the future of on-demand, urban aviation
Uber was founded with a simple vision: tap a button, get a ride. We’ve since evolved into a transportation network that helps you get from point A to point B by car, bike, scooter, and public transit—and, in the not-so-distant future, flights.
Uber Air is our most ambitious vision for that future. Just as skyscrapers allowed cities to use limited land more efficiently, Uber Air would take to the sky to alleviate congestion on the ground and enable riders to tap a button for a shared flight.
Uber Elevate Whitepaper
Uber Elevate began with a single question: Can we take Uber to the air? We conducted a first-principles analysis, examining the challenge of flying people in and around cities—and our answer was yes. The Uber Elevate Whitepaper lays out a number of key barriers to launch, from affordability to air traffic control, and, more importantly, the approach we’re taking with our partners and the industry to remove these barriers.
We believe that aerial ridesharing will enable rapid, reliable transportation through a network of small electric VTOLs (eVTOLs) that can take off and land vertically. Unlike helicopters, eVTOLs are all-electric. We’re developing vehicles with a focus on safety, minimizing noise, and energy efficiency. Read more about our technology in the Uber Elevate Whitepaper.
Distributed electric propulsion
VTOLs fundamentally rely on distributed electric propulsion, or DEP, a breakthrough technology pioneered by Mark Moore, our Director of Vehicle Engineering, during his 32 years at NASA.
Several manufacturers have demonstrated concepts that showcase ways to use DEP technology in order to optimize cruise efficiency, design simplicity, hover power, noise footprint, payload, and vehicle control.
VTOLs don’t need to follow one-dimensional routes. Trains, buses, and cars move people from point A to point B along a limited number of ground-based routes, where a single interruption such as an accident or roadwork can cause a delay. VTOLs, by contrast, can travel toward their destination independent of any specific path, complementing existing ground networks in cities.
Our team believes that developing a network of Skyports to support an urban VTOL network would be more cost- and space-efficient than infrastructure-heavy and capital-intensive approaches such as roads, rails, bridges, and tunnels. Our designs make use of repurposed decks of parking garages, existing helipads, and even unused land surrounding highway interchanges that will together create the basis of an extensive, distributed network of Skyports.
Source: Uber economic and demand modeling
Today, our app provides dynamic insights about traffic and mobility patterns in cities where we operate. By using this data, we can carefully model demand and work with cities, existing mobility and transit operators, and real estate developers to make informed decisions about where Skyports should be placed in cities. The data will also help us better understand the demand for this new type of transportation.
Facts and figures
Uber is expanding its rider options to help create the future of transportation, one that reduces individual car ownership, expands access to public transit, and helps governments plan future transportation investments
Uber has a goal of beginning demonstrator flights in 2020 and making commercial flights available to riders in 2023
The first US Uber Air launch cities will be Dallas–Fort Worth, TX, and Los Angeles, CA
Elevate is the name of Uber’s internal team and initiative focused on launching the Uber Air product. The Elevate initiative includes airspace management, battery development, infrastructure to support a distributed network of Skyports, operations, partnerships, and vehicle design
Uber Air is the aviation product that will make it possible for people to tap a button and request a flight
Skyports are stations located on the tops of buildings where riders can catch Uber Air flights
eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicles are the technical name for the flying craft designed for Uber Air ridesharing
eCRM (eVTOL common reference model) is the design that the Elevate team is sharing with the industry to embrace state-of-the-art development of eVTOL vehicles