The disruptive taxi company Uber Technologies has been eyeing the idea of a flying taxi service for a while. Now, first glimpses of the company’s concept taxi aircraft have emerged.
The concept air-taxi is expected to start trials in some American cities from 2020 and to be fully operational in five years’ time.
The electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (or eVTOL) which looks like a cross between a quadcopter and an aeroplane, was designed with what the company calls a “rider-first mentality”.
The aircraft has five propellers: four for vertical take-off and landing, and one for forward flight when the aircraft rises to its desired altitude.
It is designed for only four passengers. It seems there’ll be no middle seats in the aircraft and each passenger will have full access to the windows so everyone can catch a view of what’s outside.
The taxi company said its electric aircraft which takes about only five minutes to charge, would be able to travel 60 miles on a single charge, at speeds of 150 to 200 miles per hour.
There’s a catch to Uber’s audacious plans though. The company intends to have the aircraft piloted and to later make it autonomous. Uber remains under investigation for an accident involving one of its driverless cars, which knocked and killed a woman in the US state of Arizona in March 2018.
As you would expect, people have not been so pleased by the announcement that the company intends to eventually autopilot its air-taxi service.