In October 2016, Uber released an outline of the company's plan to have flying taxis ferrying passengers through the skies within a decade. Six months later, at the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas, Texas held in last month, chief product officer Jeff Holden revealed that the project could be taking off even sooner than that. As Reuters reports, the ride-hailing service hopes to have its vehicles in the air over Dubai and the Dallas-Fort Worth area by 2020.
The vertical takeoff and landing aircrafts (VTOLs) will be able to discreetly travel between rooftop landing pads around the cities. They’ll run on electricity, making them clean, quiet, and cheap. Uber expects fares to start at $1.32 per passenger mile, which falls between the prices for an Uber X ($0.85 per mile) and an Uber XL ($1.35 per mile) in Dallas-Fort Worth.
The company's plan is to eventually make using the service less expensive than owning a car. It also promises to be convenient: According to Uber’s estimates, a two-hour car trip from San Francisco’s Marina to downtown San Jose would take 15 minutes by VTOL. The taxis will be flown by certified human pilots at first, but Uber hopes to eventually replace those pilots with autonomous flying technology.
Construction on the VTOL landing hubs will begin in Dallas in 2018. The company is also working with Dubai to get the craft airborne in time for the city’s World Expo in 2020. If everything goes according to plan, the taxis should be giving commercial rides by 2023.