Uber Air flying taxi service to be trialled in Melbourne

Flying Uber trial to take place in Melbourne from 2020

The first test city, originally planned to be Dubai, will now be Melbourne, Australia, as the company announced today. The 19km journey from the central business district to the airport is expected to take 10 minutes by air, compared with the 25 minutes it usually takes by vehicle.

"This, coupled with Melbourne's unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the flawless third launch city for Uber Air".

Uber Air is touted by the company as an "urban aviation ride-sharing product".

It would not be the first time Uber has offered an air service in Melbourne.

Uber said on Tuesday it will begin test flights of the pilotless aircraft in Melbourne and USA cities Dallas and Los Angles in 2020 before commercial operations begin in 2023.

"Since we entered the market in 2012, Australians have embraced Uber wholeheartedly", Uber regional general manager for Australia, New Zealand, and North Asia Susan Anderson told Uber's global Elevate (Uber Air) Summit in Washington on Tuesday. Eventually Uber hopes the aircraft will be able to fly themselves.

Like Uber's auto service, prices will vary based on demand, but the company expects the typical fare to be between $200 and $225 per person.

Bodies recovered as sunken Danube boat raised in Hungary
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"As major cities grow, the heavy reliance on private vehicle ownership will not be sustainable", said Eric Allison, global head of the firm's aviation division Uber Elevate.

Macquarie Capital will partner with Uber Elevate to develop skyports for the vehicles' take off and landing, while Telstra will use 5G to support Uber's technology.

A large part of Uber's plan to take to the skies involves the development of electric helicopterlike aircraft that will be both ecologically friendly and significantly quieter than traditional helicopters, both due to their lack of noisy turbine engines and because they will use multiple smaller rotors to provide lift, rather than a single large one.

This is how Uber imagines its skyports will appear.

If the trial is successful, Uber plans to introduce the service to Sydney, offering flights from the CBD to the Central Coast.

"The future of transport is coming to Melbourne, giving us a flying start to capitalise on new opportunities that emerge as this industry takes off".

"The State Government of Victoria, Australia has been highly supportive, and we look forward to partnering with them to progress into this first worldwide trial for Uber Air in Melbourne". Sign up here and stay on top of the latest money, news and tech news.

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