After announcing its fleet of self-driving cars, Uber is entering a new venture in its quest to innovate the way people travel. The transportation firm is looking into the possibility of short-haul flights using vertical takeoff aircraft.
Jeff Holden, Uber’s head of products, speaking with Recode at the Nantucket Project conference, said that the company aims to provide its customers with “as many options as possible to move around.”
A vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft uses rotors and fixed wings, giving it the ability to ascend and descend like a helicopter but fly like a plane. This allows it to operate in small areas without need for runways.
The technology is currently being researched by the military, particularly the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the US, which is developing the VTOL X-Plane.
However, despite the advantages of VTOL aircraft, they still need a significant amount of space to operate safely, so there are some concerns about its viability in cities.
According to Holden, this could be solved by using rooftop spaces for takeoff and landing. He believes that within the next decade, VTOL craft could be used commercially, similarly to UberPool.
However, taking into consideration liability issues, logistical concerns, aircraft legislation, and safety regulations, having civilian and commercial VTOL flights within the next 10 years seems to be still up in the air, given all the obstacles drones are facing.
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