Melbourne has been chosen as one of the latest testbeds for Uber’s helicopter-like flying ambitions which are due to set off with trials as soon as next year.
The Australian city is the third location to be selected and the first outside the US, joining Dallas and Los Angeles as a launch site for its future fleet of Uber Air flying taxis.
Uber plans to take passengers to the sky in a bid to ease congested roads on the ground, for the same price as an UberX trip over the same distance.
According to the company, congestion currently costs Australia 16.5 billion dollars annually and this is projected to rise to around 30 billion dollars by 2030.
The firm is due to start test flights in 2020, before commencing a commercial operation from 2023.
“Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology,” said Susan Anderson, Uber’s regional general manager for Australia, New Zealand and North Asia.
“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.”
According to Eric Allison, the global head of the wider Uber Elevate division, a 19km journey from Melbourne’s central business district to the airport will be cut from around 25 minutes on the ground by car to around 10 minutes by air, during peak time.
“Uber’s technology is changing the way people move around their cities – from bikes to pooled rides, we are always looking for ways to reduce the need for private car ownership,” he said.
“In the coming years, with Uber Air, we want to make it possible for people to push a button and get a flight.”
During its third Annual Elevate Summit, Uber also revealed a glimpse of what the new air taxi cabin designs could look like.