Travel TechnologyThe race is on to be first to launch ‘aerial ridesharing’.

Melbourne Uber excited with air taxi trial

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Passengers will travel across a citywide network of landing pads called Skyports. Photo Credit: Uber Elevate.

The company has flagged test flights will begin next year, with commercial operations to start in 2023. Passengers will travel in vertical take-off craft that will be a lot less noisy than helicopters.

Melbourne will be the first city outside the United States to host trials of Uber Air, a service the company describes as “aerial ridesharing” that will shuttle people from rooftop to rooftop for the price of an UberX.

The firm has selected Melbourne as the third pilot city for its air taxi programme, joining Dallas and Los Angeles. Uber says its air taxis are “the future of urban mobility”.

The company has flagged test flights will begin next year, with commercial operations to start in 2023. Passengers will travel in vertical take-off craft that will be a lot less noisy than helicopters.

The service will operate using the Uber app, allowing passengers to travel across a network of landing pads called Skyports.

"As major cities grow, the heavy reliance on private car ownership will not be sustainable," said Eric Allison, global head of the firm's aviation division, Uber Elevate.

He said the Uber air taxes would reduce traffic congestion and speed up journeys across the city.

“The 19km journey from the CBD to Melbourne airport can take anywhere from 25 minutes to around an hour by car in peak hour, but with Uber Air this will take around 10 minutes,” Allison said.

Uber is working with Nasa and the US Army on its flying taxis.

Airbus is trialling its own air taxi service using a prototype electric aircraft, similar to a drone, which can take off and land vertically.

German company Volocopter is set to test its own drone-based vehicles in Singapore later this year.


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