Dara Khosrowshahi, Chief Executive Officer of Uber Technologies, said that he can see commercialization of the Uber Air flying taxi service happening within five to ten years, Reuters reported earlier today. Khosrowshahi was speaking at an investor forum in Japan, Tokyo. This was Uber CEO’s first visit to Asia.
According to Reuters, companies like Uber are making increasingly aggressive efforts to enter the potentially lucrative Japanese market. However, government rules and regulations governing the taxi industry are still quite stringent in the populous Asian country, which is why Uber is pressing regulators to ease the rules.
This comes as no surprise. In November 2017, CNBC reported on Uber partnering with NASA to develop its flying taxi project. Uber and NASA’s main concern is traffic management, so the project is supposed to figure out how these vehicles can operate safely while flying at low altitude.
“UberAir will be performing far more flights on a daily basis than it has ever been done before. Doing this safely and efficiently is going to require a foundational change in airspace management technologies,” Jeff Holden, chief product officer at Uber said.
At the time, Uber also said that it plans to trial the project in Los Angeles, Dubai, and Dallas-Fort Worth in 2020.
Apart from that, in November last year, Uber uploaded a video titled “uberAIR: Closer than you think (Uber Elevate)” to their official YouTube channel. The video is meant to demonstrate what an end-to-end flight in a flying Uber taxi will look like by 2020.
Has the era of local mass air travel already begun?
Dara Khosrowshahi expects flying taxis to become an affordable method of mass transportation, but firms like Intel, Toyota, and Airbus have already entered the fast-expanding flying taxi market. In any case, Uber will face powerful competition.
On February 5, Gigabit Magazine published an article about the Santa Cruz-based startup firm Joby Aviation.
Joby Aviation received $100 million from Intel and Toyota, and the funding is meant to aid the development of Joby Aviation’s flying taxi, designed to offer not only local, but also regional air transportation.
The multinational corporation Airbus also revealed that its autonomous electric aircraft successfully completed its first full-scale flight test.
In late 2017, Business Chief reported on the German flying taxi firm Lilium receiving $90 million in funding from a group of investors.
“This investment is a tremendously important step for Lilium as it enables us to make the five-seat jet a reality. This is the next stage in our rapid evolution from an idea to the production of a commercially successful aircraft that will revolutionise the way we travel in and around the world’s cities,” Lilium’s CEO said.
The $90 million investment will be used to develop a five-seat jet meant to fly commercially.