The initiative from the US ridesharing behemoth has been announced previously to be trialled in Dallas, Texas, and Los Angeles, California, but the latest announcement marks the first city outside the US to see the bold new infrastructure rolled out. Uber Air, which is pitched to cost users about the same as an UberX (based on distance), will see autonomous flying vehicles take to the skies above major cities, clearing up road congestion and offering passengers a quick, quiet and environmentally sustainable method of transport at all times.
“Since we entered the market in 2012, Australians have embraced Uber wholeheartedly”, says Regional General Manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia, Susan Anderson. “Today, over 3.8 million Aussies regularly use Uber as a reliable way to get from A to B, and governments across the country have recognised the important role ridesharing plays in the future of transport for our cities.”
“Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology. 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.”
While Uber famously fought state and local governments the world over in the courts to operate their unique ridesharing model in places where the industry was heavily regulated or protected from disruptive businesses, Uber Air requires a whole lot of new infrastructure, and will see Uber working closely with the Victorian Government to implement their latest project.
“The State Government of Victoria, Australia has been highly supportive, and we look forward to partnering with them to progress into this first international trial for Uber Air in Melbourne.” said Susan.
Uber also announced partnerships with Australian companies, Macquarie, Telstra and Scentre Group (the owner and operator of Westfield in Australia and New Zealand), and will work with key existing partners, including Melbourne Airport, who collectively will support the infrastructure needed to create a successful urban aviation network.
Uber Air could be particularly good news for Melburnians who frequently travel: Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport is often an hour’s trip from the city with thanks to traffic congestion, but an Uber Air could have commuters shipped from the CBD to the airport in around ten minutes.
Test flights are set to occur next year, with flights projected to be commercially available from 2023; though seemingly a very optimistic timeframe (it has already taken a lot longer than that to build a set of tram lines in Sydney’s main street), it certainly looks as though the company is keen to get people in the skies sooner rather than later.