Bell Helicopter teams with Uber to create flying electric taxis

Ashley Carr
April 26, 2017

Uber plans to turn a flight of fantasy into reality, announcing Tuesday it will offer a flying taxi service in Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai by 2020.

Uber's flying taxis will be small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically, or VTOLs, with zero emissions and quiet enough to operate in cities.

Still, flying cars face a number of logistical, technical and regulatory obstacles: Much as in the development of electric planes, battery limitations place boundaries on the duration of a flight in an all-electric flying vehicle. The company unveiled its concept for Uber's flying taxi service, which is based on the X-plane it's building for the U.S. Department of Defense, in a YouTube video Tuesday. But the company had plans to pursue flying ride sharing long before the other drama it's now dealing with, and for observers of this unique space, it's no doubt interesting that Uber continues to press on. "Normally it requires years of training to learn to fly".

Slovakia-based AeroMobil on Thursday unveiled its latest model flying vehicle at an auto show in Monaco and started accepting pre-orders.

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Using next-generation batteries, aerospace companies are already working on electric powered vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, which the industry called eVTOL. According to the company, the two hour drive from San Francisco to San Jose could be cut down to 15 minutes on its air taxis, which will travel at 150 miles per hour.

Startup ChargePoint, meanwhile, has been tapped to develop the infrastructure that the flying cars network will utilize, including the special chargers that the VTOL vehicles will use.

Bell Helicopter: A USA helicopter company and one of the developers of the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, the world's first tiltrotor aircraft capable of taking off like a helicopter and transforming into a fixed-wing aircraft. While flying cars used to be a futuristic idea, these companies are now tasked with creating these vehicles within three years. Uber has "begun conversations" about partnering with NASA and the FAA about development and testing for the air traffic systems needed to make Elevate possible, and Holden touted speakers from both agencies slated to present at the conference. Such partners include one of the US makers of the military's tiltrotor V-22 Osprey, the Brazilian aerospace company Embraer that produces both military aircraft and commercial jetliners, and a small Slovenian aircraft manufacturer that is already making and selling electric aircraft. That's comparable to the costs of the company's existing UberX auto service for short distances. Larry Page, co-founder of Google, has personally invested in two secretive flying vehicle companies, ZeeAero and Kitty Hawk.

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