Is Uber bringing us flying cars? Uncovering the brand new Elevate project

Is Uber bringing us flying cars? Uncovering the brand new Elevate project

Uber is working on a brand new on demand service that will avoid traffic jams, queuing and red lights.  Its car fleet would not be made of standard four-wheelers, though, but of electric flying cars which can take off and land vertically like helicopters, and cover long distances by air in one third of the time needed to do the same by road.Its car fleet would not be made of standard four-wheelers, though, but of electric flying cars.

Its car fleet would not be made of standard four-wheelers, though, but of electric flying cars.

A sci-fi scenario? Absolutely no. At least, not if we’re judging by the  99 page-report issued a few weeks ago by the company which, in less than ten years, has completely revolutionized the taxi business in the U.S.A.  As you know, Uber’s core business is allowing private citizens to become private drivers. Uber links the supply (drivers) and demand (passengers) and takes a given percentage on of the fare each ride.

And now Uber is aiming – literally –  even higher: its new project, dubbed Elevate, shows the company’s willingness to take everything to a new level (above our heads, actually) and apply its innovative and successful system to airplane pilots.

Aldo Agostinelli

Image by JD Hancock on a Creative commons license

An overall analysis of the company depicts a business which has proven that, if run by a big group, start-ups can turn into efficient R&D sections, with serious potential for big margins. Since the business was taken over by Google, indeed, it has become an organization specializing in the sharing economy, a real pioneer designed to produce innovation. First focusing on the automotive market, and then turning its attention to the business of automated, unmanned electric cars and finally to aero-taxis. And it’s continually collecting data about the movements of the users of the only two (widespread) services provided, i.e. its sharing platform for chauffeur-driven car hire and self-made drivers – these latter still forbidden in Italy and in most Europe – which Google intends to use in the future to offer more innovative services bound to eliminate drivers.

Uber is continually collecting data about the movements of its users, which Google intends to use in the future to offer more innovative services

The biggest obstacle to such an ambitious project is not the development of flying cars, since half the Silicon Valley has been working on them for quite a while now. Rather, it’s working up a solution for some obvious problems related to infrastructures and some technical and bureaucratic ones such as the creation of a code to regulate the flow of such flying cars, safety issues for passengers and the identification of locations for landing and taking off.

As for the rest, the necessary technology is already available and, on a smaller scale, it is showing its huge potential. It is enough to think about what drones can do and how easy it has become to pilot them or how long batteries for electrical cars can last nowadays.

The necessary technology is already available and, on a smaller scale, it is showing its huge potential.

Also, differently from Europe, the United States provides the ideal territory in which to implement such a plan. Both thanks to a flexible legal system which is open to change and  the size of the territory itself which means huge distances to cover. Facebook, for instance, was born in response to the need for people to keep in touch with friends, relatives or children studying in faraway universities, located five states away from home in two different time zones; LinkedIn was designed to enable companies to find qualified staff members across the fifty states of the Federation. And now it is Uber’s turn to try and satisfy the need to cover such distances physically.

And they are taking this task seriously. To the point they are already defining the details of the Uber Elevate fleet. The company has opted for extra-light vehicles with fixed wings, operated by means of six or more rotors, which can exploit the batteries potential for the transportation of four passengers, pilot included. As far as taking off and landing infrastructure are concerned, Uber will rely on 6 thousand heliports across the United States, mainly private. A power point is all they will need, and off they will be to a new destination.

If you liked this, you’ll enjoy my blog on the sharing economy.

What do you think about this new project? Would you use electrical flying vehicles?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments or Tweet me @AgostinelliAldo.