Uber Air's $100 'flying taxi' rides between Melbourne CBD and airport

Uber Air's $100 'flying taxi' rides between Melbourne CBD and airport

Uber Air's $100 'flying taxi' rides between Melbourne CBD and airport

Melbourne will next year become the third world city to test a new app-hailed Uber service that will transport people by air, and other Australian cities could follow if the trial is successful.

A 2016 Uber Elevate paper described a network of small and electric aircraft that can take off and land vertically known as VTOL (vertical take-off and landing).

"This, coupled with Melbourne's unique demographic and geospatial factors ... makes Melbourne the ideal third launch city for Uber Air".

To get these craft designed, built and approved by governmental agencies within its highly truncated time frame, Uber has partnered with several established aerospace companies, including Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, EmbraerX, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions and Bell.

Uber says the project has the backing of the State Government, along with private enterprises including Melbourne Airport, Telstra, and Scentre Group, which owns and runs Westfield centres across Australia and New Zealand.

The 19km journey from Melbourne's CBD to Tullamarine airport now takes anywhere from 25 minutes to more than an hour in peak hour by auto, but is expected to take just 10 minutes by air.

Commercial operation of the service will begin in 2023.

The first test city, originally planned to be Dubai, will now be Melbourne, Australia, as the company announced today.

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While the dream of door-to-door air taxi services lives on, it seems Uber is now planning to operate its intra-city flights between Melbourne Airport and major shopping centres around the city.

It proposed using sites like vehicle parks roofs and existing helipads to run the service.

Uber is certainly not the only company racing to take over the skies.

Centre for Urban Research expert Chris De Gruyter was sceptical about whether Uber Air can can solve transport problems.

Macquarie's role would be around "the development and electrification of the skyports that will support" Uber's air taxis.

This calculus has something to do with "autonomous scale manufacturing" of the helicopters, and increased use of them for heli-pooling.

Cynthia Whelan, chief strategy officer at Scentre Group, which owns and operates Westfield shopping centres, said the announcement "recognises the strategic locations of our Westfield centres, which are regarded as integral social infrastructure due to their close proximity to customers, communities and transport hubs".

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