Uber released new information Tuesday about its plans to begin testing flying taxis in Texas in 2020.
Dallas-based Hillwood will build a vertiport for UberAir at its new mixed-use development Frisco Station near Dallas, which will be used to test the prototypes.
“With traffic being the thing we’re looking to avoid with Uber Air, there was an opportunity to move people to Frisco in a much more efficient and faster way, given all the development going on and an increase in traffic," Leandre Johns, manager of public affairs for Uber Texas, told KTVT-TV.
Uber said it expects to launch the time-saving air taxi service within five years.
"Giving time back to people is something we're very passionate about at Uber," Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said in a video about the San Francisco company's plans.
Is it planning to use helicopters?
Uber released a prototype of the flying taxis Tuesday at the second annual Uber Elevate Summit 2018 in Los Angeles.
The taxis resemble helicopters but will be operated using distributed electric propulsion.
“The eCRM design is pedestrian friendly, as the propeller blades are as high as possible, leaving ample room for individuals to board and de-plane without having to duck,” Uber said on Tuesday in a statement. “The high placement of the wings provide shaded entry into the cabin, shielding riders from light rain as they board. Finally, point of entry into the eCRMs is limited to one side, simplifying ground crew operations and reducing confusion for riders when they approach their eVTOL vehicle.”
Uber expects the vehicle, which could carry up to four passengers, to fly at speeds up to 200 mph at an elevation of 1,000 to 2,000 feet.
The vehicle's battery would last up to 60 miles and recharge in about five minutes, according to the company.
Fort Worth's Bell Helicopter will build the eVTOLs, according to The Dallas Morning News.
How would the service work?
Passengers would open the Uber app to order a ride, just as they do now, but there will be an option for UberAir.
The vehicle would meet its passengers at a rooftop vertiport.
How much will the service cost?
At this point, Uber said it's too soon to determine the cost of the service.
“We do see this getting to the point where this is affordable, the price of an Uber-X, to and from where you need to go,” Johns told KTVT.