On Wednesday it was announced that Melbourne will be the first non-American city to host Uber’s flying ride serving – Uber Air.
And if you think it’s going to be ludicrously expensive… you might be surprised.
Los Angeles and Dallas are the other cities part of the rollout program, with a helicopter variant (Uber Copter) launching in New York City next month. Similar to Uber Air, it will fly passengers between Manhattan and JFK Airport for a whopping $US225 per person.
Rides are looking a little bit more affordable in Australia.
According to the Herald Sun, Uber Air rides between the Melbourne CBD and Tullamarine airport could cost the same as Uber Black – $86. In comparison, regular taxi rides tend to cost roughly $20 less.
Instead of taking half an hour to an hour for the 19km trip, Uber is saying that the ride will take roughly ten minutes.
Test flights for Uber Air are pegged for next year, with commercial flights begininng in 2023.
The news was announced at Uber’s Global Elevate Summit in Washiongton DC, where it was detailed that Sydney may be the next Australian city to get Uber Air, with flights being proposed between the CBD and the central coast.
Uber is partnering with Macquarie, Telstra and Scentre Group (owner and operator of Westfield in Australia and New Zealand) as well as Melbourne airport to help bring Australia’s first urban aviation network to life.
“Telstra is excited to be part of a truly momentous point in time for Melbourne on the world stage. Our network strength, coverage and leadership in 5G, along with our ongoing work on drones and related standards, will support Uber’s incredible technology and innovation to develop a service we have all imagined would one day be possible,” said Andrew Penn, CEO of Telstra.
“We will be working closely with Uber over the next 12 months to assess what network infrastructure, connectivity requirements and other capabilities would be needed to support airspace mobility in urban centres. It is a testament to Telstra’s network and technology capability that we are part of this exciting future,” said Penn.
Details are yet to be revealed regarding weight and luggage limitations, or how many Uber Air vehicles are likely to be available when the service is launched publicly.
The program will need to have a significantly different business model compared to regular Uber where drivers provide there own cars.
Pilots are comparatively rarer than drivers, and it’s not like every person capable of piloting a flying vehicle casually has one in their garage.
Safety is also a big concern – qualified pilots, infrastructure requirements, safe flight paths and more. It will be interesting to see whether customers will be able to just hail an Uber Air for the airport at will, or if a timetable structure will need to be implemented to avoid air congestion, ensure landing pad availability and for general safety.
With all of those added costs and complications present from the outset, can we expect the pricing to remain as low as $86? And will surging be a thing for Uber Air?
While we’re excited to see flying cars appear in the near future, there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered.