In less than a decade, Uber has redefined the idea of flexible labor and gutted the American taxi industry. The company launched a fleet of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh. It’s on its way to becoming the most valuable startup ever.
Whatever. Today, Uber is promising flying cars.
Within a decade, according to a 99-page white paper released today, Uber will have a network—to be called “Elevate”—of on-demand, fully electric aircraft that take off and land vertically. Instead of slogging down the 101, you and a few other flyers will get from San Francisco to Silicon Valley in about 15 minutes—for the price of a private ride on the ground with UberX. Theoretically.
“No doubt Uber will find willing passengers and pilots eager for a payday,” writes WIRED‘s Alex Davies. “The trickier part will be getting local governments on board, especially since the company boasts a less than sterling history of getting along with regulators.” Experts from MIT and NASA who reviewed the white paper believe there’s a market for practical on-demand aviation and that the infrastructure is already in place. All this optimism makes the five to ten year timeline seem less ridiculous.