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After revolutionising the taxi market with its ride-hailing service, Uber Technologies Inc is now pointing to the skies with its flying taxis.
Uber anticipates to deploy its flying taxis in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and Dubai by 2020, Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said at the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas. Uber taxi will be a small vehicle; powered by electric motors with test flights set to begin soon.
The electric aircraft that will take off and land vertically (VTOLs), with zero emissions and quiet enough to operate in cities.
Uber estimates that the flying taxis would cut down travel time between San Francisco's Marina to downtown San Jose to 15 minutes when it takes more than two hours it takes by road.
In the early process, the company can get to $1.32 (Rs 85) per passenger mile, slightly higher than taking an UberX for a similar distance, Holden said.
In the longer run, the ride-hailing company expects the cost of taking flying taxis to fall below car ownership. Uber is working with Hillwood Properties to make four vertiports - VTOL hubs with multiple takeoffs and landing pads, and charging infrastructure - in Dallas starting 2017.
Uber has also partnered with companies such as Bell Helicopter, Aurora, Pipistrel, Mooney and Embraer to build the flying taxis.
The company has also teamed up with U.S. electric vehicle charging station maker ChargePoint Inc. as well as working on developing an exclusive charger for its network.
The company has also partnered with the Dubai government and expects to offer passenger flights as part of the World Expo 2020 in Dubai.
Uber's chief product officer Jeff Holden said: "Urban Aviation is a natural next step for Uber in this pursuit, which is why we are working to make 'push a button, get a flight' a reality."