UberAir flying cars coming to Los Angeles in 2020

Uber says that by 2020 they will be testing a few flying cars in Los Angeles and a real commercial flying car service will follow a few years later.

Uber Elevate and UberAir are the names of the service they will launch with Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft . Uber Elevate has already started exploring the barriers we’ll need to overcome to make this a reality. Read our white paper to learn more about the future.

Uber is working with respected aerospace partners at Embraer, Bell Helicopter, Pipistrel, Aurora Flight Sciences, and Mooney Aviation. Experts agree that the technical challenges of building a drone capable of carrying passengers are crackable. New materials facilitate lightweight vehicles. Distributed electric propulsion—i.e., putting lots of rotors all over the place—makes vertical take off and landing possible, with less noise and pollution than a helicopter. Advanced computer controls make the vehicles easier to fly, and eventually should make them autonomous.

Uber is proposing point-to-point transport from airpads.

Uber says the full commercial service should be up and running well before the 2028 Olympics arrive in LA.

14 thoughts on “UberAir flying cars coming to Los Angeles in 2020”

  1. The FAA has numerous restrictions about vertical aircraft landing sites. You cannot simply take off from in front of your house or your driveway. Also, you may not realize the airspace above you is very crowded, Often restricted and complex. It seems very naïve to expect hundreds or thousands of electric VTOL aircraft to fit into this airspace.

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    • Under the current FAA, with its current rules, you are correct. The current FAA, with all its incompetence at adapting to technological change, (see its attempts at new ATC technology) is the dominant reason that new aircraft technology development has slowed steeply in the last 50 years. The FAA must die or be transformed for any new aircraft technology to enter the marketplace. That includes VTOL aircraft as drones. The fear of these are the reason the FAA is trying to strangle drone technology in its cradle.

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    • Tip speed of props is the primary determinant of noise. When the number of props is multiplied, and their diameter decreses, and they are shrouded, as stated in the article, then the noise will drop as well.

      Granted, there are still people who don’t want anything flying near their home, whether they can hear it or not. I classify them with the Wahhabi clerics in the 1930s, who marched off to join the revolt against King Saud, when he allowed the first aircraft to land in Riyadh, S.A. It was, they claimed, an offense against God’s prophet, because it meant his flight to the Moon on his horse, was not so special.

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    • LA has lots of very large surface parking lots that could accommodate these, roof of some buildings and to fly along the coast you could have floating platforms 1km from the beach where the aircraft won’t bother anyone. I am starting to think this is doable at least along the west coast, could connect all the beach towns to each other. Imagine take a boat off Santa Monica pier to a floating platform nearby, board one of these and in 30min you are in Laguna Beach, one more 40 min hop and in San Diego.

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    • They’ll have a couple hundred horse power gas engine on board too and unless they want to just use the batteries to take off that will be ripping away at high RPMs too.

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      • Sorry I just realized that I confused this with another flying which has a gas engine too! There are way too many flying cars proposed!

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  2. I think it could work pretty well in spread out US cities such as LA and Dallas. I think this will happen gradually and pretty slow but it is inevitable. Looking forward to taking one of these taxis in early 20th in L.A. Together with underground tunnels Musk is already building and dozens of public transport projects in the works L.A. future mobility is looking up.

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  3. Flying cars are so passé… the new UberRoo with a giant carbon fiber pole passing through the middle attached to system of clutch controlled springs that lets the UberRoo bound over traffic in mighty jumps…

    The UberRoo is just about as likely as their flying cars… 😉 😉 😉

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  4. So “flying car” just means “small aircraft” now?
    Well that’s one way to achieve the promise.

    Truly, the near future will have “flying cars” (small aircraft), floating cities (cruise ships) personal robot servants (vacuum cleaners) and cyborgs (people with a RFID chip in their arm.)

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    • I have to say… I’m so dâhmned tired of being sold (perhaps for years… decades) a line of announcements of super awesome seeming stuff … which erodes gradually to something entirely nominal. Still ‘sexy’ enough to sound progressive. But really, in the end, not.

      Here we have an airplane that has a tillable prop on each wing. Presumably with enough propulsive force to lift the whole aircraft off the ground. Then start vectoring it forward to where conventional wing-lift takes over and it becomes an airplane. Then the reverse to land.

      Great! But a Terminator 4 quadracopter it isn’t.

      How will it do? It certainly needs enough power to GO somewhere besides take-off and land. Note that it is being billed as a 2 passenger system. Since I wrote that flight-analysis program some time ago, I’ll use it now to see how this all works.

      Shall we agree on “0.3 kWh/kg” for really advanced battery packs? (0.4 kWh/kg raw, but 0.1 kWh/kg derated for internal non-ionic fluid cooling.) 1.6 m pod width. 10 m total wing span. 4 m tail span. Carbon fiber everywhere. 10 kW/kg rare earth quadrature motors. 33:66 passenger-aircraft mass distribution. 200 kg total passenger+luggage mass. (This means 1 passenger like me, Big American Burger Eater, plus my computer-electronics sling bag. I stepped on the scale this morning, loaded (winter coat, big boots, sling bag). Tipped 115 kg. Maybe my girl could be the other passenger at 60 kg.)

      Well … it looks barely doable.

      63 kg motor + rotor + swing mounting.
      12 kg seats, safety
      20 kg avionics, automation, failsafe backups, radar, collision avoidance
      234 kg batteries, coolants, wiring (aluminum)
      71 kg airframe
      … 400 kg empty drone mass.
      … 200 kg maximum TKO payload

      Other driving factors:

      2,200 RPM fanblades. 4 of them, counter-rotating. 50% Mach tip speed.
      12.5 degree rotor attack angle
      90 MPH thru-rotor wind speed.
      140 MPH maximum forward velocity
      150 kg/s air moved thru props
      5,880 N lift at TKO
      150,000 W motor input power. TKO
      60,000 W motor input power, cruise.
      20 minute duration
      70 kWh battery pack (without emergency reserve)
      234 kg batteries, etc.

      1.5 m diameter rotors
      (3.5 m² prop area)

      And how fast are these flirty-birds going to recharge? Oh wait, they’ll drop their back-end and have a robot swap batteries. But still… way more batteries than copters. 10:1? I bet so. Looks like they could have 30+ mile ranges. Before they fall out of the sky.

      I ended up using 0.15 kg/kW of motor and prop mass. Dunno if this is realistic, but it seems OK.

      GoatGuy

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