Uber’s plans for a helicopter-based service, Uber Air, have just been unveiled.
The company is hoping to start flights at some point this year, and one of the trial cities is our very own Melbourne.
Back to the future: Uber has revealed details on its plans for a helicopter-based rideshare service, starting in Melbourne, Los Angeles, and Dallas.
Previously confidential documents reveal that the fleet would consist of more than 1000 aircraft with 83 skyports for landing. The helicopters would not need to follow fixed routes, and the tops of buildings and parking lots could easily be repurposed as skyports.
Two other cities – Los Angeles and Dallas – have also been chosen as trial locations.
The documents reveal that Uber intends to apply the same model it has for car-sharing – where Uber acts as an aggregator, connecting passengers and aircraft operators.
There have been some concerns with the project, particularly surrounding noise pollution and privacy. Uber has stated that their target noise level would be 67 decibels for a ground observer when the helicopter is at an altitude of 75 metres – that’s the same amount of noise as a vacuum cleaner or a busy road.
Whilst flights are expected to begin sometime this year with already existing helicopters between the city and airport, the system will really ramp up once electric helicopters become commercially available. These are currently being developed by companies like Boeing, Toyota, and Hyundai, and will be quieter than normal helicopters.
“Moving forward from 2023, Uber will work diligently to show that the service can be scaled safely, efficiently and with minimal disruption to the neighbourhoods it serves,” the documents stated.