Aviation Week & Space Technology

Podcast: Uber’s Flying Taxi Plan and Personal Aviation

Discuss this Video 12

on May 8, 2017

This stuff belongs in "Popular Science" or "Popular Mechanic" magazine and not here. This is the kind of junk we are seeing in the newspapers every day about "Driverless" cars taking over for taxis. I can think of no intelligent person who would willingly get into a low-cost electric VTOL craft or driverless cab to go to the neighborhood bar to avoid the DUI arrest. Who would be the users of such unproven technology?

on May 8, 2017

If someone can "think of no intelligent person who would willingly get into a ... driverless cab," they (not surprisingly) know few intelligent people.
Low-cost electric VTOLs are a completely different matter, of course.

on May 8, 2017

It isn't the driverless car that bothers me. It is the driven cars whose operators have no logic or attention span and are using their unsmart phones while driving. How does a driverless car cope with that? The thing that makes Uber and the other cheap transport companies successful is their price. If they start indulging in cutting edge electric helos then they will make the old high priced cabs look cheap. I have been a pilot my entire adult life and I can safely say that 90% of the public has no business piloting any craft that lives in the 3-dimensional world since most cannot handle the 2D world they live in.

on May 8, 2017

Since I have known the designer for nearly years, I would check with him, and if he said it was OK, take a whirl.

on May 17, 2017

This is as funny as when Obama set the registration requirement for UAV instead of use technology to defeat UAV in unwanted air space. I am sure ISIS is laugh and rolling on the floor saying they will register. Ha ha....
I can see now the unregulated air space with UA flying up and down dodging each other going to their destination, ha ha.... at least cars have roads to follow this is absolutely hilarious.

on May 8, 2017

Not only is it realistic, but I saw an Israeli flying car on Youtube that makes more sense then the one depicted above. It had no annoying wings. They are not only coming but will save us trillions on not having to build more roads and infrastructure. I give them 10 - 15 more years till they fill the skyways buzzing between the super skyscrapers..

on May 8, 2017

The entire system has to be completely automatic - no "pilot" whatsoever for this to economically work. The modern generation of airliners uses a very high degree of automation interfaced with a highly trained aircrew to make the entire concept of a tube screaming through the upper atmosphere at 500 mph, well, safe...

This concept still has to be taken to the next generation of automation to remove the human brain from the cockpit, before it will be considered "safe" enough for someone to jump in a pilotless drone. When everything works, everything works... which it does 99.99% of the time. It is that last 0.01% which still requires a thinking human brain to manage the situation when things break. No one will ever tolerate an automated uber air-taxi crash, even with odds of making it safely 9999 times out of 10000. This requires the next generation of automated systems to manage an entire fleet of automatic air-taxis, and manage every possible situation where things can go wrong. There is still a ways to go... much, much more complicated than building a "taxi" sized drone with seats in it and then wishing them luck to hope it all works out. Every single conceivable scenario, every task, every procedure still needs to be worked out. It will happen, but I highly doubt within the next 10 years.

on May 8, 2017

As a business manager, this is what I would do.

If Uber goes forth with this plan, public and personal safety would be priority.

If they have not thought of it yet, I would suggest two things, which have a duel beneficial purpose:

#1. Uber would be "required" to install a parachute which deploys in case of malfunction.

#2 The unit must be float-able and submersible with ability to operate under and/or on top of water; w/GPS locater.

If they do not include the safety features, I can not see anyone in their right mind who would risk the ride. And I don't know why an insurance company would cover them for accidental death or injuries.

Personally, I would not trust it if it did not have those safety features.

I did see a special on Australian travel, water sports, etc., and there is already an inventor who had the small pod with seating for two in a shark design, that swims and navigate under water.

Maybe Uber should team up with him.

Once those are included and become available to the general public, they would be perfect escape pods for those in tsunami zones. I could see them sell like hotcakes in those areas.

on May 8, 2017

We have been reading about flying cars coming soon for at least 75 years. I have no doubt that Uber could build one of these things but, but the likelihood they could make the operational part of a service like this a practical transportation mode in my lifetime is pretty close to zero.

on May 8, 2017

As a retired Aeronautical Engineer with a Commercial Pilots rating with ~60 years of flying experience 'gathered' in the Air Force, Air National Guard, and private flying, there is NOT information to judge whether the aircraft is any Good, or Not

on May 9, 2017

One hundred years ago Curtiss Aircraft was pimping the Curtiss Autoplane. It flew, it drove, it was a failure both as an auto and an airplane.

Since then virtually every year as brought the announcement of another "flying car."

How many have you seen at the airport or on the street?

Curiously Taylor Aerocar N102D, once owned by TV star Bob Cummings, and which appeared at the beginning of every episode of "The New Bob Cummings Show" is still flying.

Not very well, nor is it a very good car.

Fly cars: a bad idea for 100 years.

Perhaps the worst was the AVE Mizar which tried to create a flying Ford Pinto (An awful auto also known as the "Iaccoca Cigarette lighter). Had there been a Darwin Award in 1973 it would have gone to Mizar designer Henry Smolinski.

on May 13, 2017

A look at the foundations of this article reveals that the whole structure is built upon the premise that the genius who built one Silicon Valley wonder is so universally brilliant he may create a success of anything he may imagine.

So what about that first wonder?

One of the nice things about being a closely held company is that one may not have to reveal everything, often anythng.

"New revenue figures show $50 billion Uber is losing a lot of money"
businessinsider.com/ubers-revenue-profit-and-loss-2015-8

"Uber Loses at Least $1.2 Billion in First Half of 2016"
bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-25/uber-loses-at-least-1-2-billion-in-first-half-of-2016

"Uber, Lifting Financial Veil, Says Sales Growth Outpaces Losses"
bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-14/embattled-uber-reports-strong-sales-growth-as-losses-continue

The key word in the last headline is GROWTH. Sure sales are "growing" but when will they exceed losses?

You can live off invested equity for a while. At some point the return on investment has to justify the amount invested.

As Uber transitions from a businesses where the bulk of the REAL invested equity passes from belonging to zillions of nameless drivers operating their own vehicles at ever declining profits; to corporate investment in advanced driverless vehicles returning, perhaps, higher profits to Uber; we might finally see real profits. We will probably see the need for still far greater investment.

Then comes the very highly speculative investment in a totally unknown technology; and the wild eyed dreams will meet the hard fiscal road.

Hint: developing some mundane software to run on existing hardware does not take a genus. Nor does convincing hundreds of thousands of drivers to use their personal vehicles for your profit.

Developing non-existent aircraft, then mass producing them, and the infrastructure to utilize and maintain them, might.

You may live high on the hog, basking in adulation until the cash flow ends . . .

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