Despite a tricky few months in the UK and fresh regulatory setbacks, Uber’s appeal does not appear to be wavering. This week’s announcement that the company has set its sights on the Californian sky will see Uber partner with NASA to bring flying cars one step closer to reality. With UberEATS, UberBOAT, UberRUSH and now UberAIR all in service or en route, the brand seems determined to leave no stone unturned.
Uber’s ambitious plans for UberAIR would see a network of pod-like flying taxis take to the Los Angeles skyline. They are collaborating with NASA to create a traffic management system for low-flying, emission-free vehicles, demonstrating credibility. As these vehicles will require a place to land throughout LA, Uber has also signed a deal with a property firm in the city, which has 20 potential spots for the so-called Skyports required to successfully deliver such a venture. This is all part of the detailed homework the company and its partners have done to prove the concept is more than pie in the sky.
Despite not being the first city chosen for UberAIR – that honour went to Dallas – LA was added to Uber’s shortlist as it aims to demonstrate the technology in action by 2020, with the hope of becoming commercially viable by the time the city hosts the Olympics in 2028.
Uber isn’t the first company to announce its plan for flying cars, but it certainly knows how to feed the imagination. With a price tag matching current UberX trips, but significantly faster, it would not only be a revolution for mass transit, but also a very accessible one. With its knack for staying one step ahead of the narrative, Uber is adept at beating controversy; it will need to keep delivering the goods to continue to stand out from the crowd.