Uber Picks Melbourne As Test Site For Flying Taxi Service

Uber Elevate set to take off in Australia with flying taxi trial in Melbourne

Flying Uber trial to take place in Melbourne from 2020

Even as Uber announced Melbourne, Australia as its first global city for the expansion of its futuristic flying taxi service Uber Air, a top company executive said that India continues to be an important market for this vertical.

Uber plans to eventually deploy a fleet of flying cars to ferry its passengers around urban areas, but while we patiently await the Jetsons-age, the company's Uber Elevate division is launching a new helicopter service in New York City.

Regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia Susan Anderson said the move was possible because of forward-thinking Australian governments.

Last month, a class action lawsuit was filed against Uber, on behalf of thousands of Australian taxi and hire auto drivers, for allegedly operating illegally which provided the company with an unfair competitive advantage.

Victorian Government Assistant Treasurer Robin Scott said the Uber Air trial plays up the state's leadership in "transformative technologies".

Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, told the conference the electric aircraft are "surprisingly efficient" and similar in cost to the standard UberX vehicle service.

The air taxis will ultimately be able to carry people across cities for no more than the price of a regular taxi service, and Uber expects a 19km ride from Melbourne Airport to the CBD would take just 10 minutes.

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The news came at the Uber Elevate Summit in Washington, where the California-based ride-hailing giant offered new details on its vision for flying taxis as a way to ease traffic congestion and improve urban mobility.

Melbourne will join Los Angeles and Dallas as pilot cities for the program, with test flights beginning in 2020 ahead of plans for a full commercial operation from 2023.

The test flights will transport passengers from one of seven Westfield shopping centers in Melbourne to the city's main worldwide airport. Uber Copter will also include pickup and drop-off auto service to either the heliport near the Staten Island Ferry or to a helipad near Terminal 8 at Kennedy airport.

"But helicopters are too noisy, inefficient, polluting and expensive for mass-scale use".

"Together with Safran Cabin, we've designed for the first time in history, a bespoke aircraft cabin that is truly mission-driven for aerial ridesharing on Uber Air", said John Badalamenti, Uber Elevate's head of design.

Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn said his company's 5G network would be used by travellers to order Uber Air services.

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