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New Age Infrastructure

New Age Infrastructure

Uber’s flying taxi service -- that glorious sci-fi dream -- still plans to launch its first takeoffs by 2023. One major caveat, however, is that unlike regular taxis which can freely zip about the streets, UberAIR taxis need access to the sky and a place to land. That’s where “Skyports” come in: special areas localized specifically for launching, landing, and customer pickup, and they’re looking appropriately futuristic.

While still at the early developmental stages, Uber plans to support over 4,000 passengers per hour, per Skyport. These initial blueprints come from Corgan, an architecture firm keen on “transforming urban air mobility” with what it calls “Connect,” an infrastructure that will enable up to 1,000 Uber eVTOLs (Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing) each hour.

The Connect system is composed of a single module that can be easily adapted for use on open sites like the topmost level of parking garages or skyscraper roofs. The module itself consists of four parts. First there’s the Connection Plaza, a hub area which keeps the system tethered to pre-established highways, and provides a nice entryway for those rushing off to an important business meeting; the Bridge facilitates intuitive passenger flow. Corgan hasn’t forgotten customer service either -- the hypothetical Station will apparently be a hotspot for urban commuters, and will offer restaurants, amenities and a shopping precinct. Lastly, the Flight Deck will be the part that connects passengers with their dedicated Uber air taxi pod. The firm added that each paired module can manage 180 landings per hour.

He believes that air mobility services could be 10 to 20 times safer than current helicopter trips -- the air taxi service will be operated by commercial pilots who undergo specific training -- but also feature some level of background autonomy after extensive testing, similar to Uber’s self-driving cars.

Uber has faced issues with its ground-based autonomous driving project and things are far more complicated when you’re flying in the air. Moore emphasized that UberAIR’s DEP redundancy (distributed electric propulsion redundancy) could help reduce the likelihood of mechanical accidents and crashes. There’s only one way to find out. Uber plans to start aircraft testing by 2020.