By S.L. Fuller | January 24, 2018
Uber has a new CEO, and he thinks Texans will be flying around in Uber VTOL aircraft within the next 10 years.
Former Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took up the new post in September 2017 after Uber cofounder Travis Kalanick resigned as CEO following pressure from investors amid a series of scandals. Khosrowshahi’s job at Uber started a little more than a year after the company unveiled its hopes for urban mobility.
Although he’s new to the company, he showed he is on board with Uber’s ambitious electric aircraft urban mobility endeavor while speaking at the DLD (Digital, Life, Design) conference in Munich Sunday through Monday.
Uber hopes to demo that sort of ecosystem in 2020 in both Dallas and Dubai. Although Khorsrowshahi didn’t say anything about a two-year timeframe, he did say Uber’s urban air mobility network would probably be functional sooner rather than later — just maybe not in Germany.
“I can’t speak for Munich, but we’re going to see people flying around Dallas, Texas,” Khorsrowshahi said. “I think that’s going to happen sooner than you think. I think it’s going to happen within the next 10 years.”
Looking at 2028, Uber has another urban mobility benchmark set for that year. Multiple news outlets reported in November that Uber said it hoped to have commercial operations up and running in the city ahead of the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Germany, however, poses a tougher challenge. Khorsrowshahi discussed that there would need to be a shift in regulations for Uber to operate to its full extent on the ground. Does that mean Germany gets left behind?
“I think that there’s the potential of Germany missing out. I don’t know enough about Germany, and I don’t know enough about how Germany plans to change. But the pace of technological change is unmistakably accelerating,” Khorsrowshahi said. “So I think that how governments and regulators respond to that is going to be difficult because there’s a fundamental mismatch.”
Regulation occurs when there is consensus, he continued, and it happens slowly. A wide scope of stakeholders with a variety of different interests must come together to create regulatory change, he said. But while that moves at a slow pace, technology grows exponentially, and “it’s not waiting for anybody.”
How can Germany fix that? Khorsrowshahi said he doesn’t know.
“But I do know that with the congestion that cities universally are experiencing with all of our interests as it relates to the environment and the electrification of our transport grid, and also with technologies that allow us to share rides,” he said. “All of those are technologies that we are enabling. I think they are fundamentally good for the world, and we will find our partners. I’m hoping we can find partners in Germany — but I can’t control that.”