Flying Ubers: A Thing of the Near Future?

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By Ryan Conklin

Staff Reporter

How would you feel if you could fly right over Friday afternoon traffic? Would you do it? For the general public, this could be a real possibility in the near future. In April 2017, Uber unveiled the company’s plans to partner with NASA to start work on a flying fleet of taxis known as UberAIR, according to CNN.com.

“The four-person ridesharing flights won’t become a reality anytime soon but Holden said there are plans for demos coming to Los Angeles in 2020,” according to CNN.com. “Uber previously announced cities Dallas, Texas and Dubai as other partner cities.”

“Yeah, I definitely think that’s pretty cool; I would take it, if it was trustworthy and has been tested enough,” said Sacred Heart Alumni Nicholas Quaid. “We don’t know where the future is going, but with new technology this could be a much more efficient way to get from place to place.”

One of Uber’s new vehicle’s main purposes is to fly over heavy traffic jams in hopes of significantly reducing city travel times. However, programs still need to be developed on how to prevent mid-air collisions, that on top of calculating affordable costs, according to the Associated Press Newsroom.

“I feel like I would do it, if I were to go from Connecticut to New York or Connecticut to Long Island because I would love to avoid tolls and the terrible traffic in this area, which is pretty much around the clock,” said junior Daria Sanfillipo.

The company hopes to have their first paying customers ride from destination to destination by 2023 and to have demonstration flights by 2020. The vehicle would also be good for the environment, considering it is battery-powered and generates lift using rotors instead of jets.

“Flying taxis? I think they are a great innovation yet kind of a stretch,” said freshman Liam Roche. “I think it would significantly cut travel times. Taxis would no longer be bound by roads and maybe you could even be picked up in your own backyard!”

“To get a sense, Uber projects that trips from the Los Angeles airport to the Staples Center during rush hour will take less than 30 minutes—down from 1 hour 20 minutes by car,” according to CNN.com. “It expects to offer rides in the flying taxis for prices comparable to its UberX service. The goal is to make transportation fast, and inexpensive — and it hopes the service will be ready for commercial operations ‘several years ahead’ of the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.”

However, some students feel that flying Ubers are not necessary.

“I don’t understand why we would need flying taxis,” said sophomore Maria Koch. “It would be convenient for some people but I do not think the masses will be using it. Honestly, I am fine with just using regular taxis to get from place to place.”

Uber is looking to move on from a troubled period, in which, its image has been damaged by investigations that found rampant sexual harassment of employees and multiple reports of drivers assaulting passengers. Those episodes did not slow development of the flying taxi project, according to the company’s Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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