Aurora Flight Sciences' eVTOL subscale aircraft makes its first flight April 20, 2017. Photo courtesy of Aurora
Uber is not slowly wading into the concept of VTOL urban mobility. Uber CPO Jeff Holden said that Uber’s style is “launch it and find out” instead of getting outpaced. So, Uber is diving in. And it has already tapped several industry partners to do it with.
While the company plans to continue forging partnerships with policymakers and infrastructure experts for urban air transport, it also is in need of a vehicle to carry out the tasks. At this week's Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas, Texas, Holden said that the company is partnering with Aurora Flight Sciences, Bell Helicopter, Pipistrel, Mooney and Embraer to develop an electric passenger VTOL aircraft and the ecosystem around the concept.
Aurora Flight Sciences’ concept for Uber’s eVTOL (electric VTOL) is derived from its XV-24A X-plane program and other autonomous aircraft the company has developed. The concept includes an autonomous flight guidance system from Aurora’s Centaur, the perception and collision avoidance system from the AACUS program, and the battery electric propulsion system from the XV-24A demonstrator. The subscale concept aircraft made its first flight last week.
Uber’s plan includes launching a demonstration urban air mobility network in Dubai and Dallas by 2020. The company is partnering with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority for the initiative and to conduct a study into pricing models, people movement and route infrastructure.
Uber aims to launch the demonstration with passengers in Dubai in conjunction with the World Expo in October 2020. Uber said that the mayors of Dallas and Fort Worth have expressed their support in making the region the first metropolitan area in the U.S. to explore an urban air mobility pilot program. The goal is for Dallas to also launch a network demonstration by 2020.