Uber takes its flying taxi ambitions to Australia


The first test city, originally planned to be Dubai, will now be Melbourne, Australia, as the company announced today.

Uber Air expects to expand into other Australian cities.

Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, told the conference the electric aircraft are "surprisingly efficient" and similar in cost to the standard UberX auto service.

"This, coupled with Melbourne's unique demographic and geospatial factors ... makes Melbourne the flawless third launch city for Uber Air".

Last year, the company met with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to discuss the regulatory and safety issues for Uber Air.

And now with the third market being chosen in Australia the company is aiming to commercially launch Uber Air in the three markets by 2023.

Anderson said the company hopes to begin test flights next year, with an eye to open the service to commuters from 2023.

"Since we entered the market in 2012, Australians have embraced Uber wholeheartedly", Uber regional general manager for Australia, New Zealand, and North Asia Susan Anderson told Uber's global Elevate (Uber Air) Summit in Washington on Tuesday.

Uber is working with Nasa and the US Army on its flying taxis and has two aircraft manufacturers - Embraer and Pipistrel Aircraft - also on board.

The electric aircraft will, in the longer term, be able to fly people across cities for the same price as the auto ride-share service UberX.

A number of aviation companies are now prototyping vertical take-off and land (VTOL) aircraft - essentially helicopters - to be used as part of the Uber Air service.

Uber Air" "skyports' will likely spring up atop the vehicle parks of Westfield shopping centres.

Victorian Government Assistant Treasurer Robin Scott said the Uber Air trial plays up the state's leadership in "transformative technologies".

Last month, a class action lawsuit was filed against Uber, on behalf of thousands of Australian taxi and hire vehicle drivers, for allegedly operating illegally which provided the company with an unfair competitive advantage.

Macquarie's role would be around "the development and electrification of the skyports that will support" Uber's air taxis.

"Uber Air is an initiative with the aim to create on-demand, urban aviation options via all-electric aircraft on the Uber network. Uber Air will be a mass-market product serving daily and casual commuters as an alternative to driving into and out of congested urban areas", the submission read. Sign up here and stay on top of the latest money, news and tech news.