Uber is hell-bent on making its futuristic concept of affordable “flying taxis” (i.e. battery-powered helicopters) a thing, and has enlisted a slew of companies to help make it happen within five years.
According to The Verge, Uber announced a series of partnerships at its Elevate summit, with everyone from aviation manufacturers to electric charging companies to real estate firms in addition to pairing up with several cities, investing millions of dollars into commercializing the chargeable helicopters.
Though the plan is to debut “vertical takeoff and landing” aircraft (or VTOL for short) in Dallas and Dubai by 2020, at least one person has an eye on the five boroughs. Rob Wiesenthal, chief executive of Blade, a helicopter-chartering service that’s one of Uber’s new partners, wants to bring the uncharted form of air transportation to New York City, reports the New York Post.
“We want to bring VTOL to NYC as quickly as possible and we want the public to see them, trust them and try them and hear them,” Wiesenthal told the Post. He claims that bringing VTOL to the city could mean a five-minute commute from Manhattan to JFK Airport.
That’s an ambitious—and possibly unrealistic—goal, though the idea of calling up a helicopter for one’s own personal use with an app isn’t unheard of. (That’s precisely what Wiesenthal’s Blade offers, with service to and from NYC airports, Manhattan, and the Hamptons.)
But before this particular method of air travel could become mainstream, the Federal Aviation Administration would have to regulate where the flying cars could operate and land. There are also questions about the safety of the proposed vehicles and the viability of the batteries.
Uber, for its part, told the Post that it “has no plans to bring VTOL to New York City at this time,” so curious New Yorkers will likely have to wait a while longer before getting to check out the technology. As it is, the state only recently approved testing for self-driving vehicles, which will be subject to supervision from the state DMV and the New York state police.