Uber's Big Breakthrough: San Francisco to San Jose in Just 15 Minutes

Uber is accelerating its plan to bring flying taxis to the public. At Tuesday's Uber Elevate conference in Los Angeles, the ride-hailing company announced new details for its electrically powered vertical takeoff and landing aircraft—otherwise known as eVTOL.

UberAir uses propellers mounted on wings for lift and a tail-mounted front-facing propeller to move forward. Despite the futuristic design, Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said there is “no magic or huge leap of science that needs to occur here. There’s amazing headroom to improve on urban mobility."

Helicopters have been ruled out because they are too noisy and have high emissions.

UBER_ECRM003 The newest model Uber eVOLT was revealed at the Uber Elevate Conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Uber

In the company's Elevate white paper, Uber reveals that a trip from the marina in San Francisco to downtown San Jose would take just 15 minutes in the eVTOL. The same trip on the train will take you more than two hours (and an hour and 40 minutes via an UberX vehicle).

Uber says the cost will be reasonable in the long term. While initially the price for that trip will be around $129, Uber hopes it will eventually drop to just $20. The trip in an UberX costs $111.

The aircraft will fly somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 feet above the ground (a traditional commercial plane flies at 35,000 feet) and travel at around 200 miles per hour. The battery in the eVTOL lasts for 60 miles and can fully recharge in just five minutes.

“Every day, millions of hours are wasted on the road worldwide,” the white paper reads. “Last year, the average San Francisco resident spent 230 hours commuting between work and home—that’s half a million hours of productivity lost every single day.”

In 2020, Uber plans to run eVTOL demonstrations in Dallas, Los Angeles and the United Arab Emirates' Dubai to help research the infrastructure implications. If everything goes according to plan, commuting to work via the sky will commence in 2023.

According to USA Today, Uber is working with the Army and NASA to study air traffic control problems associated with low-flying aircraft.

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