04/28 2017

Flying taxis. Seriously.

BY: Sharon Silke Carty

Remember a couple of weeks ago when we said that the reason it’s so hard to predict the future is because the future is always a little crazier than we can imagine today? Well, here’s something that sounds insane: Uber says it’s going to have flying taxis running as prototypes in three years.

In a 99-page white paper released this week, the company said it will operate UberAir in Dallas and Dubai by 2020.

Here’s how it works: You’ll get picked up by a regular Uber car and driven to the launchpad where a flying car will be waiting. The flying car looks more like an airplane/helicopter hybrid than a car that can fly, but inventors who’ve tried to make flying cars that look like regular cars have so far failed, so who are we to argue with the flying-car moniker? The trip will cost $1.32 per mile, Uber says, which it says is slightly more expensive than taking an UberX. Now, it costs about $111 to take an UberX from downtown San Jose to San Francisco; Uber says that same trip would cost $129 by air and would take just 15 minutes.

“On-demand aviation has the potential to radically improve urban mobility, giving people back time lost in their daily commutes,” Uber said in press materials announcing the initiative. “We view helping to solve this problem as core to our mission and our commitment to our rider base.”

It sounds crazy, but maybe that’s the mark of a great idea.