What’s one major problem for Uber, or any other ridesharing service for that matter? Traffic. While it might be handy to tap on your phone a couple of times and then see Randy or Steve rolling down the street with the ubiquitous Uber sticker in the window, there’s still the matter of congestion.
Uber’s got a thought about that, and it’s called Uber Elevate. AirUber may be a better name, but maybe there’s a licensing conflict with Nike? Basically, what we have here are flying cars that soar above the congested gridlock, allowing you to snicker at the unenlightened masses below. Uber has a massive white paper available for you here if you’re ready for a long read.
The flying cars are small fixed-wing planes called VTOLs, for Vertical Take-off and Landing, reports SiliconBeat. They’re electric, which means they are clean, quiet, and can hop straight up into the air from places like parking garages. Uber isn’t implying that it will be creating these silent flying chariots of the future. Rather, this is simply a statement saying “this can be done,” similar to what Elon Musk is doing with his Hyperloop.
There are other advantages to the flying car concept. In his white paper, Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said “VTOLs do not need to follow fixed routes. Trains, buses, and cars all funnel people from A to B along a limited number of dedicated routes, exposing travelers to serious delays in the event of a single interruption. VTOLs, by contrast, can travel toward their destination independently of any specific path, making route-based congestion less prevalent.”
As is the case with any emerging technology/concept, there are several hurdles that would need to be addressed. Safety, weather conditions, air traffic control, the FAA, and of course, the sheer economics. Meanwhile, we can turn to George Jetson and his commute to see how it’s done right.