Uber wants to launch its new aerial taxi project, called Elevate, in L.A., Dallas-Fort Worth, and Dubai, the company's head of product, Jeff Holden, said at the Web Summit in Lisbon. Holden added that Uber has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to create a new traffic control system to manage the possibly autonomous, low-flying machines.
L.A.'s traffic woes are so famous that the opening sequence of the Oscar-winning movie La La Land features frustrated commuters dancing on their parked cars. Uber wants to solve that problem by introducing a new kind of aircraft (think: a plane-helicopter hybrid) that customers can access using the app. In a demonstration video, a working mother orders her ride, picks it up at the top of a skyscraper, and then flies to a nearby station where she takes a regular car home. The company says a one-and-a-half-hour commute from L.A.'s airport to the Staples Center could take less than 30 minutes using Elevate and regular cars.
While Elevate may sound like the mode of transportation for metropolitan elite, Uber wants to keep things inexpensive. Holden told the Verge that fares could be so low, it would be cheaper to fly with Uber than owning a car.
The ride-hailing company first introduced its plan for "on-demand aviation" in October last year, but still has some hurdles to face, including inventing the aircrafts. "There's been a great deal of progress that's been hard to see from the outside, because a lot of this is just hard work at the drafting table," Holden told the Verge. He added that Uber wants to begin operating a fleet of Elevate aircrafts around the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport before 2020.