Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Uber designates Melbourne as first non-US city for flying cars

Uber designates Melbourne as first non-US city for flying cars

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Melbourne was named the third official pilot city for Uber Air, joining Dallas and Los Angeles. ROBERT LEVER/AFP

Uber designates Melbourne as first non-US city for flying cars

UBER on Tuesday selected Melbourne, Australia, as the first non-US city for its aerial ride-sharing service that is expected to launch in 2023, as it unveiled new partners for the ambitious initiative.

Melbourne was named the third official pilot city for Uber Air, joining Dallas and Los Angeles. Test flights are to start next year with commercial operations planned for 2023.

The news came at the Uber Elevate Summit in Washington, where the California-based ride-hailing giant offered new details on its vision for flying taxis as a way to ease traffic congestion and improve urban mobility.

“Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology,” said Susan Anderson, Uber’s manager for the region that includes Australia.

“This, coupled with Melbourne’s unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the perfect third launch city for Uber Air. We will see other Australian cities following soon after.”

Since first announcing its plan for shared aerial transport, Uber has been adding new partners and details for the initiative.

This week, Uber announced it was adding new aircraft partners to the programme, including Pennsylvania-based Jaunt Air Mobility, which will produce a rotor- and fixed-wing light aircraft.

Uber also revealed an air taxi cabin design in collaboration with French engineering group Safran.

“Together with Safran Cabin, we’ve designed for the first time in history a bespoke aircraft cabin that is truly mission-driven for aerial ride-sharing on Uber Air,” said John Badalamenti, Uber Elevate’s head of design.

Uber also displayed the concept Bell Nexus flying quadcopter vehicle unveiled this year, expected to be part of the Uber fleet, and new designs for its “skyports” that will make up the network for the aircraft.

Air rides ‘for masses’

The Uber Air service is designed to work in tandem with Uber’s car service as a “multimodal” option that helps speed passengers to their destinations.

The aerial option will be included on the Uber smartphone app that will include ground and air transportation and pool travellers into one aircraft.

Uber last week announced a first step toward the aerial ride-sharing programme, a helicopter service to New York’s John F Kennedy Airport from lower Manhattan.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said earlier on Tuesday that the helicopters will eventually be replaced “by a generation of electrically powered vertical takeoff and landing vehicles”.

Khosrowshahi said Uber’s large user base can help stimulate demand for aerial ridesharing.

“We want to get the industry moving and designing these vehicles so that they can be available for urban transportation,” he said in an on-stage interview sponsored by the Economic Club of Washington.

He added that “we want a pricing of this service that will be available for the masses versus just the elites”.

Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, told the conference the electric aircraft are “surprisingly efficient” and similar in cost to the standard UberX car service.

“It will be something like $6 per seat mile [$3.73 per seat kilometre],” Allison said. “We think we can do better than the price of UberX.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Hun Sen: Manet to be candidate for prime minister

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has reaffirmed that his oldest son Hun Manet will be his successor as Prime Minister if he is elected. Speaking during the inauguration of a new sewage treatment facility in Preah Sihanouk province on December 2, Hun Sen said Manet will be