Uber Elevate Pursues Air-Taxi Vision

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Uber will be ready to start commercial service with urban air taxis by 2023, Mark Moore, Uber Elevate’s engineering director, said at the Elevate Summit on Tuesday. The electric-powered VTOLs are still in development, but Uber released its latest concept showing a four-passenger aircraft with four rotors. “Stacked co-rotating rotors or propellers have two rotor systems placed on top of each other rotating in the same direction,” Uber says. “Initial experimentation of this concept has revealed the potential for significantly quieter performance than traditional paired rotors and improved overall performance.” The company said testing will begin in 2020, with Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles as the first test sites. Their goal is to provide the service at a rate comparable to an Uber ride on the ground.

Several Uber partners also revealed concepts of new designs. Tine Tomazic, R&D director at Pipistrel, said his new eVTOL is optimized for speed and distance. It will be quiet, and aims to be easy and comfortable for passengers to use. Pipistrel is partnering with Elan to develop the eVTOL structure, Tomazic said. It will be designed for serial production, and scalable to various sizes and missions. Embraer X, an Embraer branch, and Karem Aircraft, also revealed eVTOL concepts. Uber also said it has signed a Space Act Agreementwith NASA to create a new air traffic control system that could manage fleets of low-flying autonomous aircraft in urban areas.The Elevate conference continues on Wednesday, and will be streamed live online. Mark Moore said a new Uber Elevate white paper will be released on Wednesday.