Uber: Fast-forwarding To The Future Of On-demand, Urban Air Transportation

At its Uber Elevate APAC expo in Tokyo, Uber announced that it is looking to expand its services to include air travel through electric vertical take-off and landing systems, also called EVTOLs. The company sees an opportunity in the rising population of key global cities. Among these, are the cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru in India, besides cities in Japan, Australia, Brazil and France.

Since the rise in population results in additional vehicles on the road, it further clogs road transport services and needs to be solved urgently. It is estimated that the city of Delhi is expected to grow from roughly 25million to about 60 million by 2030. As a business, Uber has worked to solve this solution, which it aims to do more. Recalling its growth, Barney Harford, COO at Uber said it took the company 5 years to reach its first billion rides. The next billion happened in 6 months. And recently, it completed 10 billion rides on the platform. He was quick to point that growing cities and roads will also clog ride-sharing services. And so, the future for the company’s product seems to take flight with Uber Air, a new service that will allow users to book a flight by simply tapping a button on the Uber app.

The company is working with an elaborate list of partners include vehicle manufacturers such as Toyota, battery manufacturers such as Panasonic to create the ecosystem needed to sustain a service such as Uber Air.

After evaluating several global cities, Uber announced that the following five countries are on a shortlist:

• Japan — Home of one of the world’s most enviable public transit systems and a world leader in the technology and automotive industries, and host to the 2020 Olympics.

• India — The company says Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore are among the most congested cities in the world. Considering travel is commonly referred to in units of time rather than distance, Uber Air offers a mode of transport that can continue despite traffic snarls.

• Australia — After “several positive conversations with local policymakers and the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority” the company is hoping to see positive steps in the near future.

• Brazil — Rio de Janeiro and the state of São Paulo is home to Embraer, a key partner for Uber Air, and also happens to be a very active helicopter market, indicating demand for urban aerial ridesharing.

• France — Uber announced the opening of an Advanced Technology Center in Paris, the city where Uber was first born.

Uber hopes to apply the learning from Uber Air to its food delivery service Uber Eats by starting delivery of orders via drones. The company says it “sees a compelling opportunity to bring the same benefits that urban aviation will bring its ridesharing business to its food-delivery business. By taking to the air, Eats will be able to offer faster, farther reaching, more affordable, and more reliable deliveries to more customers and restaurants across the world.”

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