Uber Elevate has teamed up with UT Austin and US Army Research Labs as part of its uberAIR project, which envisions an urban-based ride-share aviation network. Uber Elevate intends to launch in three cities with demonstrations starting in 2020; both Los Angeles and Dallas are two of those launch cities and a third one is being sought internationally. If everything goes as planned, uberAIR will start commercial operations in 2023.
The new partnership was announced by UT Austin, which says it’ll be working with both Uber Elevate and Army Research Labs on the uberAIR project. For its part, UT Austin will develop new rotor technology for use with Uber’s future vertical take-off and landing aircraft, more commonly called VTOL.
Uber expects to launch a transportation network involving VTOL aircraft capable of cruising at speeds between 150mph and 200mph at altitudes between 1,000 and 2,000ft. Current expectations place the VTOL range at 60 miles per charge, though final specs are yet to be seen.
According to the university, existing concepts — which are said to be preliminary — anticipate stacked co-rotating rotors as a more efficient option over alternatives. Such a design is said to also improve the VTOL aircraft’s overall performance and versatility.
Though it sounds like something from the future, a VTOL-based transportation option is vital in certain cities where roads has become excessively congested. By taking to the skies, residents and visitors can travel at faster-than-car speeds over roads for short trips, doing so without the time and cost of traditional air travel. A trip on an Uber VTOL aircraft could, for example, shave as much as 50 minutes off a trip that would take an hour by car.
SOURCE: UT Austin