16 November morning, I left the metro Laurier subway to go take a taxi, having seen spend four oars packed to the ground, without ever being able to go up. The bus I borrowed before? He got bogged down in Montreal congestion, created by yet another surprise site that was not there the day before. Oh, if only I could have taken a flying cab…
There is perhaps not so far from dream to reality, if we believe the project that has just announced Uber, the company “carpool” that almost left Quebec last month.
Dubbed Uber Elevate, the new service would allow devices called evTOL (for electrical vertical take-off and landing vehicles) to connect between them private landing areas, arranged on the roof of high-rise buildings. Departures would be at a fixed time and bookings would be made through an app similar to that used by current Uber users.
The vehicles of this new service, sort of hybrids between a small plane and a helicopter, would have four places and could reach 320 km / h. Cost of the race? No more expensive than that of a land taxi, says Uber… Especially if uberAIR, the subsidiary created to manage this service, comes to operate unmanned aircraft, as provided in its business plan.
The project is far from foolish: Uber has already signed an agreement with a real estate developer for the development of its “vertiports”, and the company has established a partnership with NASA to design the evTOLs and a system of urban air traffic management, since it estimates that it could operate several thousand daily flights in the not-too-distant future.
If the first tests are expected to take place in Los Angeles, Dallas (Texas) and Dubai in 2020, commercial commissioning would take place three years later, in 2023. Proof that one does not swim in full science fiction: another similar project is underway in Dubai. However, this involves taxis-drones (and therefore without a pilot), who passed their first test flight last September , after a flight of about 5 minutes to 215 meters in the air.
The UAE is hoping that by 2030, one-quarter of all taxi fares in their states will be powered by automated transportation services, including those offered by these new-style UAVs designed by the German manufacturer. Volocopter – which have nothing to do with Uber evTOLs.
Finally, in Sao Paulo – where the helicopter has been used for a long time by wealthy Brazilian commuters – a low-fare helicopter taxi service, Voom, has already been established last July. Is the future of urban transport really in the sky, as in Blade Runner?