Trending: Salesforce’s $15.7B Tableau deal is a defining moment for the West Coast tech ‘megalopolis’

Uber says it’s on track to start flying its first all-electric air taxis on a demonstration basis next year, with commercial service due to begin in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles areas in 2023.

It’s also planning to focus on Australia’s tech capital, Melbourne, as its first international air taxi market. That’s a change from previous plans, which looked instead in Dubai’s direction.

To give potential riders an idea of what they’ll be climbing into, the rideshare company took the occasion of its annual Uber Elevate conference in Washington, D.C., to show off a mockup of the aircraft’s passenger cabin and a new video:

Like the delivery drone design that Amazon unveiled last week at its re:MARS conference in Las Vegas, the Uber concept shows its electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing craft, or eVTOL, transitioning from vertical to horizontal flight after a copter-like liftoff.

Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, repeated the company’s view that the cost of taking an eVTOL ride will eventually be comparable to Uber rideshare — and should be much faster than getting around traffic-clogged urban areas.

Allison said eVTOL service is sure to be cheaper than Uber Copter, the helicopter transport service that is due to link New York’s JFK International Airport with downtown Manhattan starting next month at a one-way cost of $200 to $225 for an eight-minute copter ride. (That cost includes the Uber car pickups at each end of the aerial trip.)

But there’s lots of work to be done over the next couple of years: Uber still has to focus in on the designs for its air taxi fleet and get them certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Uber has been working with several eVTOL ventures — including Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences as well as Embraer, Bell, Karem and Pipistrel Aircraft. Today the company announced that Jaunt Air Mobility would join the group.

During his talk at Uber Elevate, acting FAA chief Daniel Elwell made clear that the eVTOL taxis as well as commercial drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems or UAS, would have to address safety concerns before they fill the skies. Here’s his message, boiled down to a series of tweets:

Correction for 4 p.m. PT June 11: We originally said Melbourne was Australia’s capital city, but that honor goes to Canberra, as a commenter pointed out.

Subscribe to GeekWire's Space & Science weekly newsletter

Comments

Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs on GeekWork. Employers, post a job here.