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Uber Air is here: Aussie city chosen to test 'flying taxis' as early as next year

  • Uber Air has named Melbourne as one of three cities where it will test its flying cars venture.

  • The trial will begin in 2020, ahead of a commercial launch in 2023.

  • Uber Air expects to expand into other Australian cities.

Melburnians may soon be travelling by flight to work, dinner and events, with the city chosen by Uber to be an Uber Air test city.

One of Uber's flying cars could be landing near you within months. Images: Uber

The trial will begin in 2020, with similar trials carried out in Dallas and Los Angeles as Uber prepares to officially launch its flying taxi venture.

"Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology," regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia Susan Anderson said at an Uber summit in Washington.

"This, coupled with Melbourne's unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the perfect third launch city for Uber Air.

"We will see other Australian cities following soon after."

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. By car, that journey generally takes 25 minutes.

One of Uber's flying cars could soon be flying you across Melbourne. Source: Uber

“As major cities grow, the heavy reliance on private car ownership will not be sustainable. Uber Air holds enormous potential to help reduce road congestion,” global head of Uber Elevate, Aric Allison said.

“Uber’s technology is changing the way people move around their cities — from bikes to pooled rides, we are always looking for ways to reduce the need for private car ownership. In the coming years, with Uber Air, we want to make it possible for people to push a button and get a flight.”

This is how Uber imagines its skyports will appear. Source: Uber

Uber also announced it will be partnering with Telstra, Scentre Group and Macquarie to support the infrastructure required to launch the surface.

Macquarie Capital will partner with Uber Elevate to develop skyports for the vehicles’ take off and landing, while Telstra will use 5G to support Uber’s technology.

One of Uber's electric air taxis. Source: Uber

Victorian government assistant treasurer said the trial is an example of the state’s innovation and “transformative technologies”.

History of Uber Air’s flying cars in Australia

Uber revealed its commercial flying car plans earlier this year, describing it as the “future of urban innovation”.

Uber submitted the plan to the Victorian government, arguing mass transit by air could take the pressure off Australia’s size and congestion challenges.

“Uber Air is an initiative with the aim to create on-demand, urban aviation options via all-electric aircraft on the Uber network. Riders will push a button and get a flight via Uber Air. Uber Air will be a mass-market product serving daily and casual commuters as an alternative to driving into and out of congested urban areas,” the submission read.

“On-demand aviation has the potential to change the way we think about urban transportation, and radically improve urban mobility by giving people back time lost in their daily commutes.”

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