Melbourne to trial electric flying taxi service, Uber Air

Mae Love
June 12, 2019

Uber will bring flying taxis to Melbourne as the ridesharing company begins a trial of the service.

Uber Air is meant to start commercial operations from 2023.

Uber's flying taxi concept has been around for several years, under the name Uber Air. It wants to ease traffic congestion on the ground.

The air taxis will transport people across cities for the same price as vehicle UberX services.

The company in August announced five possible markets to launch its pipedream: Australia, Brazil, France, India, and Japan.

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

"This, coupled with Melbourne's unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the ideal third launch city for Uber Air", she said. "Uber Air holds enormous potential to help reduce road congestion", global head of Uber Elevate, Aric Allison said.

Other Australian companies involved in helping to provide the infrastructure needed for the pilot include Macquarie Capital and Telstra, as well as Melbourne Airport.

The company hopes the service will one day be as affordable as its terrestrial UberX offerings.

"It is a testament to Telstra's network and technology capability that we are part of this exciting future".

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This week, Uber announced it was adding new aircraft partners to the program, including Pennsylvania-based Jaunt Air Mobility, which will produce a rotor- and fixed-wing light aircraft.

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

Dallas and Los Angeles in the USA will also be pilot cities.

"Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ride-sharing and future transport technology", Susan Anderson, regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia, said in a statement.

Uber is certainly not the only company racing to take over the skies.

The legal nod to operate in Victoria was coupled with a AU$1 levy imposed on all commercial trips from July 2018, with the revenue raised touted as replacing licence fees in order to help compensate taxi operators.

Uber revealed its commercial flying vehicle plans earlier this year, describing it as the "future of urban innovation".

The rideshare company has been a disruptor to traditional taxi services in Australia and is now facing a class action lawsuit from taxi drivers.

"We need to prove to people that this technology can be as safe as helicopters, which regularly fly in our cities".

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