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Can you afford UberAir's flight service?



With the announcement of Uber's flying taxi concept in Los Angeles today, the network has become full of talk of flying cars and eVTOL vehicles. But we had a vehicle that could take off and land vertically for decades, but the modest helicopter did not really revolutionize urban transport throughout its lifetime. How is Uber's concept different?

Most people have never ridden in a helicopter. This is mainly because they are too expensive for the average commuter. Uber's EVTOL concept looks a bit like a helicopter, but Uber says it's a completely different animal and the differences go beyond the hardware.

During the Uber Elevate Summit, the Ride Hailing Company dedicated itself to abandoning the opportunities for affordable urban air traffic.

Reduction of Early Costs

Uber expects between the high maintenance and energy costs, pilot training and salary, as well as the cost of maintaining large heliports and paying landing fees, based on his early UberChopper experiments / promotions ] that a helicopter trip has a best-case operating cost of about $ 8.93 per passenger per mile, which rather limits access to the rich.

First, Uber will tackle the operating costs. With its more efficient electric propulsion system and the ability to drive once in the air in an energy-efficient fixed-wing mode, Uber claims that its eCRM-003 eVTOL concept is up to three times more fuel efficient than a standard single , Rotor helicopter. An electric drive theoretically requires less maintenance than an internal combustion engine, which further reduces operating costs.

  ecrm003-held-shot

Uber claims that its eVTOL aircraft is more efficient and requires less maintenance costs than a conventional helicopter.


Uber

Instead of large heliports or airports with landing fees, the smaller eVTOL vehicle will land on flexible skyports whose design could be as simple as painting a landing zone on the roof of a parking deck and charging the boat. In the room where a helicopter could land, Uber hopes to start about 20 landings per hour at launch and scale from there. Uber has already partnered with Hillwood Properties and Sandstone Properties to secure real estate for UberAir Skyports.

Uber's internal estimates have shown that the cost of the eVTOL concept per passenger per mile is about 35 percent lower than when commissioning a service in 2023.

Further Optimization and Carpooling [19659005] From there Uber wants to optimize further. Similar to the introduction of UberPool which allows commuters to drastically lower the price of a ride, Uber hopes to add ride-monitoring optimization and smart trip planning to UberAir.

Bundling drivers, planning first- and last-mile trips to and from their skyport hubs with ground transportation and dynamic pricing can ensure that the four passenger aircraft, eVTOL, operate intelligently. Uber even discreetly and dynamically mentioned the passengers on arrival to put them in optimal seats to offset the efficiency of the aircraft. Seems extreme, but every little bit counts.

With intelligent pooling of drivers and smarter trip planning, Uber believes UberAir's operating cost per passenger per mile can be reduced to $ 1.84 per passenger in the short-term. That looks much better.

Automation and Scaling

From there scale effects should begin. Uber needs its partners to build thousands of eVTOL vehicles a year to lower the price and enable their plans for thousands of flights per hour and more networks in sister cities.

For example, Uber's early plans for Los Angeles include about a dozen skyports performing a few hundred short flights per day between them. On the other hand, they are trying to focus on about 40 ports in the LA area, some with up to 1,000 takeoffs and landings per hour. For comparison, the FAA monitors about 43,000 US flights per day. Uber wants about 10 times as many a day in just one city!

Before it even thinks to come to this point, the air traffic control will require a major overhaul. Traffic automation – much like cities have integrated automation into traffic lights for highways and roads – seems to be the only way to deal with such a mad traffic. Uber is still several years away from finding a solution, but it's already in the early stages of working with the FAA and NASA.

Speaking of automation: the last major cost factor is the cockpit pilot. Uber's goal for its eVTOL vehicles is a fully autonomous operation that not only saves the high cost of training and paying a pilot, but also improves the vehicle's efficiency as there are 200 pounds less meat in the driver's seat. This close integration with autonomous air traffic control, which I have mentioned, also requires autonomy for the sheer number of planes that Uber wants to reach.

Due to scaling and automation, Uber's long-term estimate for eVTOL operation drops to about 44 cents per passenger per mile. (For comparison, Kelly Blue Book estimates that a Audi Q7 costs about 92 cents a mile.) At this point, it seems a bit pie-in-the-sky, especially considering it Not only is there a revolution in vehicle automation, but also a complete rethinking of how air traffic control works in the US. It's nice to have goals, I think.

Will you be able to afford it?

So, will you be able to afford UberAir when it arrives? Well, we've looked at operating costs based on Uber's own estimates, so take them with a pinch of salt. In other words, if it can reach its target of 2023 the first years of UberAir will be affordable only to the wealthy. Estimated operating costs are not much lower than a helicopter.

But if UberAir stays with Uber long enough to think about car pooling and flight optimization, the price could be so low in just a few years that it's worth taking the occasional UberAir to the airport. After all, Uber wants to make its urban air travel as affordable as a car, but it will take some time (and a pretty big leap in automation) before it gets there.

Of course, also keep in mind that Uber is not the only in the flying taxi business . Someone could beat or beat Uber when it comes to pricing. Either way, the sky over our cities could be much busier in the future.


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