According to The Australian Financial Review, Sydney is in line to be among a small group of cities selected by US ride-sharing giant Uber to be part of a futuristic trial of flying vehicles, as the company starts laying the ground work to make short-distance urban air transportation a reality by 2023.
The ride-sharing company released a white paper on how to fast forward on-demand urban air transportation in October last year, in a plan that would involve it developing aircraft that can take off and land vertically for city use.
In April it announced it had teamed up with Bell Helicopters, Aurora Flight Sciences, Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer, and Mooney to build the vehicles and the necessary infrastructure to support and power them. Now one of the company's most senior executives says traffic nightmares endured by Sydneysiders makes the harbour city an ideal option for early development.
"The New South Wales government is very excited about cracking transportation problems in innovative ways and Sydney certainly has a traffic issue," Uber's chief product officer Jeff Holden told The Australian Financial Review while visiting Sydney.
"We have a rigorous framework [for selection] and we look at how much the city needs it. We're looking for congested cities that have a particular geographic pattern that lends itself to it. In urban aviation you have an aircraft that can travel about 60 miles at 150 to 200 miles per hour, they have to be very quiet, energy efficient and they need to take off and land from vertiports on the outskirts of the city.
"We have no bias in terms of geographic location and it doesn't need to be near the US. Sydney is a clear option."
Rather than looking like a flying car, the early vehicle sketches look more like an elongated helicopter with multiple small propellers.
The "vertiports" will be hubs with multiple takeoff and landing pads for the flying electric vehicles where commuters will be able to board short flights to other parts of the city.
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