Uber has unveiled plans to create electric flying taxis that can be used to navigate cities and avoid congested streets.
The controversial ride-hailing app says it plans to create vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) crafts that can be summoned at the push of a button in the same manner as their current car service.
The car-hailing company has announced it will work with a range of aviation firms to launch its Elevate scheme in two cities, Dallas and Dubai, and says it hopes to have the first demonstration of the new urban air network ready by 2020.
The firm’s chief product officer Jeff Holden said: “What started as a simple question – ‘why can’t I push a button and get a ride?’ – has turned, for Uber, into a passionate pursuit of the pinnacle of urban mobility – the reduction of congestion and pollution from transportation, giving people their time back, freeing up real estate dedicated to parking and providing access to mobility in all corners of a city.
“Urban Aviation is a natural next step for Uber in this pursuit, which is why we are working to make ‘push a button, get a flight’ a reality.
“This is Uber Elevate, and we are excited to announce the first group of Elevate partners, a group of visionary industry and government leaders with whom we will work closely to take that idea off of paper and into reality.
“Starting today, Dallas and Dubai are racing to the future and we can’t wait to see how on-demand VTOL flight accelerates these great cities.”
Among the firms Uber announced it would work with are aerospace firm Aurora Flight Sciences and Bell Helicopter, as well as electric car charger firm ChargePoint, who will develop the charging stations to be used with the vehicles.
The technology firm also said it believes Elevate can help cut emissions by reducing traffic on roads. Holden said the firm is targeting long-term pricing that is competitive with its current fees for hailing an Uber car.