Uber Just Unveiled a Life-Sized Prototype of Its Flying Taxi and It May Be Coming to a City Near You Sooner Than You Think
Uber's latest vehicle at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week is sure to raise expectations for commercial travel as high as it hopes to lift its passengers by 2023.
That's right. Uber is partnering with Bell Aerospace and hopes to begin offering the Bell Nexus—an air taxi—to its users in the next six years.
The First Flying Car Is Set to Roll Out Next Year, But It's Far From the Image We Have From Science Fiction
Many may recall the blockbuster 1989 sequel to Back to the Future that took place in a speculative 2015. Its depiction of the future was surprisingly accurate about several things: a national baseball team based out of Florida, flat screen televisions, voice-activated appliances, and flying drones. However, the most glaring prediction that the filmmakers got wrong was the invention and implementation of flying cars. But maybe only by a few years. A company based out of Massachusetts is set to begin selling its vision of the world’s first flying car next year.
One of the Founders of Google Is Trying to Make Flying Taxis a Reality, and He Just Unveiled His Latest Prototype
If you’ve ever watched the 1960s futuristic cartoon The Jetsons, you’ve seen Google co-founder Larry Page’s basic vision for flying taxis. It takes off and lands like a helicopter and flies horizontally with a passenger on board—except George Jetson still had to steer. After several years of quiet development, Page has unveiled the self-driving, electric prototype in New Zealand and plans to bring service-for-hire to the public.
Behind the Curtain of the Secret Flying Taxi
Page, now CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is operating this project by personally financing a company called Kitty Hawk. The company is working to improve the prototype of autonomous flying vehicles, known as Cora, so people could rent similar vehicles for transport.
To the disappointment of “Back to the Future” fans everywhere, 2015 came and went with nary a flying car zooming across the sky. But perhaps Doc Brown and Marty McFly will only need to travel a handful of years later, into the future that is, if they want to see the first real flying cars.
Partnering with NASA, Uber unveiled last year a new venture called Uber Elevate, which will introduce a pay-as-you-go flying ride-sharing service to metropolitan skylines. The program initially planned to launch in Dubai and Dallas Fort Worth, but then last month Uber’s head of product Jeff Holden announced that the company is adding Los Angeles as one of its pilot cities. He hopes for the aerial taxi service to take off as early as 2020 - which is less than three years away.