Running late for a crucial meeting in Gurugram? Imagine hailing an air taxi to fly you from your office in, say, Central Delhi to the meeting location in under 10 minutes. If that sounds like a scene straight out of a sci-fi flick, think again.
Uber intends to achieve this feat with ‘Uber Elevate’, one of its most ambitious projects yet.
And, the SoftBank-backed company is considering India, along with countries like Japan and France, to be a part of its futuristic dream.
Scouts for third partner
Uber had named Dallas and Los Angeles as its first two launch cities in the U.S. for introducing its aerial taxi service and has been on the lookout to select an international city as its third partner. It has now short-listed five countries — India, Japan, Australia, Brazil and France — and one of them will become the first Uber Air City outside of the U.S., Uber said in a statement.
Uber hopes to start operating demonstrator flights starting 2020 and beginning commercial operations in 2023 in the three cities.
“In pursuit of our first international launch market, where you will be able to push a button and get a flight, we are announcing a shortlist of five countries where Uber Air can immediately transform transportation and take our technology to new heights,” Eric Allison, Head of Uber Aviation Programs, said.
Uber said Indian cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru are among the most congested cities in the world and travelling even a few kilometres can take more than an hour.
The Uber Elevate team will engage in talks with stakeholders across major cities in these countries, and announce the chosen Uber Air international city within the next six months.
The decision will be based on factors like size of the market, and availability of enabling conditions. Uber Elevate will also take into account a third criteria of local commitment, where it will work with the respective governments and communities to make the dream project a reality.
The company plans to use vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft for the service.