Uber planning ‘skyports’ for flying taxi service in LA
Fresh off its initial public offering, ride-hailing company Uber is continuing efforts to bring its taxi-like service skyward and this week revealed new details about a helicopter-like service it plans to roll out in Los Angeles and Dallas.
The company already flies well-heeled travelers from Los Angeles to Indio every year for Coachella, but Uber has much bigger ambitions for the service it’s tentatively calling Uber Air. At a conference in Washington, D.C., Mark Moore, engineering director of vehicle systems for Uber, said Wednesday that the company could eventually oversee production of 10,000 electric aircraft annually. Uber plans to launch the service in Los Angeles by 2023.
With so many vehicles projected to be zipping around the city’s skies, the company is planning to construct “skyports” where passengers can board aircraft en route to another hub. Architecture firm Gensler revealed plans Tuesday detailing what these flying taxi stations might actually look like.
According to Gensler, the skyports will be distributed throughout Los Angeles and other cities at strategic points where passengers can easily access public transportation or shared devices like bikes and scooters. Relatively cookie-cutter by design, they’ll be quick to build and can be constructed from the ground up or added to an existing structure.
In preliminary designs, the skyports appear similar to bus depots or mini airports, with pickup and dropoff areas, along with places to shop, eat, and wait for a ride. The stations would also include charging stations for the electric vehicles and rooftop helipads with loading/unloading zones for as many as eight vehicles.
Uber also unveiled renderings of the vehicles themselves, which include four passenger seats and a small storage space for baggage. The company expects the cost of operating a helicopter will be close to $700 per flight hour, so flying in one of these vehicles is likely to be a lot pricier than an UberX ride.
credit to: Elijah Chiland