Following discussions with the federal government, flying ride-share platform Uber Air is set to choose either Sydney or Melbourne as one of its trial cities.
Uber is in development of an aerial taxi service, or flying ride-share platform (whatever you’d like to call it), in what the company says will be the “future of transportation”.
According to The Australian Financial Review (AFR), Uber Air has made it clear that Australia could be the home of one of only a few select destinations chosen for trials of Uber’s new air taxi.
“We want to go to a place where there is a demand for it and that has the need for it. [The city] has to have enough population density, but also a large geographic area so you end up with … development patterns that lead to congestion,” Uber’s global head of aviation Eric Allison told the AFR.
Allison told the AFR the Victorian government was campaigning hard to be the city of choice. However, before either state could proceed with Uber Air trials, Uber will need to be able to meet federal regulations.
Federal Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Regional Development Michael McCormack has indicated that the government was willing to work with Uber.
The decision will be made at the Uber Elevate Summit in Washington, which occurs between 11 and 12 June, where the international Uber Air trial city will be announced, joining Los Angeles and Dallas.
However, it has been reported that Sydney and Melbourne face competition from shortlisted cities in India, Japan, France and Brazil.
Uber Air is striving to launch in 2023 with commercial flight operations in Dallas and Los Angeles.
The initiative stems from an Uber Elevate whitepaper outlining Uber’s vision for on-demand, vertical electric air transport vehicles that take off and land vertically.
The company has partnered with Bell Helicopters, Aurora Flight Sciences (a Boeing company), Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer, and Mooney to build the vehicles and the necessary infrastructure to support and power them, with each company working on a different design.
Among the infrastructure Uber is proposing, is a number of ‘Skyports’ for what the company says will be an “unprecedented number of takeoffs and landings.”
“The top names in architecture, design, and engineering are devising solutions capable of handling up to 1,000 landings per hour, even within footprints as dense as an acre or two,” the company says.