11/1/2016 | 1 MINUTE READ

Look Up in the Sky, You May Soon See a Flying Uber Taxi!

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Uber Technologies Inc.’s next big idea could be a flying taxi service.

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Uber Technologies Inc.’s next big idea could be a flying taxi service. The ride-hailing company recently posted a 98-page plan on its website for what it calls a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle.

Uber says it is working with more than a dozen partners and experimenting with many different designs for the project. The company hopes the so-called “Uber Elevate” concept will take flight within the next decade, but concedes it is a longshot with “real risk.”

The proposed VTOL car would use distributed electric propulsion. This would allow it to use fixed wings with greater lift efficiency than helicopter rotors, Uber says. But it notes the technology is still in the early development phase.

As with road-bound EVs, electric planes also require advances in battery technology. Other challenges include receiving federal certification, air traffic control issues and greatly increasing the number of landing pads.

If these issues can be solved, Uber believes automated flying electric cars could become a viable alternative to help speed commute times and reduce traffic congestion. Such transportation ultimately could be quieter, cheaper and twice as safe as driving a car, according to the white paper.

Uber estimates it would cost about $130 for the first VTOL cars to travel 43 miles from San Francisco to San Jose. With economies of scale and technology advances this could eventually be cut to about $20, the company envisions. By comparison it costs $111 to make the trip using uberX and as low as little to do so through a combination of uBerX and mass transit services.