Uber revealed the new concept at its second Elevate Summit, an annual event that highlights progress towards an ultimate goal of commercializing a fleet of autonomous electric flying taxis in city centers. This drone-looking invention is a VTOL, or electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing vehicle. A single rotor on the tail will move the flying auto forward.
"The eCRM design is pedestrian friendly, as the propeller blades are as high as possible, leaving ample room for individuals to board and de-plane without having to duck", Uber said in a statement on Tuesday.
The design prototypes are on display at the Uber Elevate Summit in Los Angeles, where Khosrowshahi is meeting with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao this week. The aircraft will transport four passengers at a time. Flying speed will be between 150 miles per hour and 200 miles per hour while flying from 1,000 to 2,000 feet above the ground. The vehicles will feature one door on one side of the aircraft to make ground operations easier, according to Wired.
Officials tell CNBC that they'll fly 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground and be quieter than a traditional helicopter.
For now, the concept of an autonomous flying rideshare service may still mainly exist within the realm of science fiction, but who knows, with backing from serious minds at NASA and funding from Uber, we could be closer to a world reminiscent of The Fifth Element than we think. Analysis of these simulations will identify safety issues as these new aircraft take to the air in an already crowded air traffic control system.
Uber is one of several companies, including aircraft makers Boeing and Airbus and the Kitty Hawk venture backed by Alphabet Inc co-founder Larry Page, that are investing in the concept of small, automated and electrified aircraft that could be used to ferry passengers or cargo across congested cities. The two-day conference brings together leaders in the aviation and technology industries as well as government stakeholders that Uber says will help them figure out the safe and right way to deploy uberAIR.