Popular Science’s Sept. 27th Article written by Kelsey Atherton entitled, Uber is Working on a Vertical-Takeoff Aircraft… is a glimpse into the passenger drone crystal ball and how it might impact the booming rideshare industry. Doing its best to make the famous cartoon The Jetsons a reality, Uber is sticking to its mission to offer “transportation as reliable as water, everywhere, for everyone.” The transportation, in this case, happens to be a flying car.
On the heels of iReviews feature article showcasing the Ehang 184, the eco-friendly low altitude personal Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV), Uber recently announced its search for its own flying car technology. The EHang 184 seems to be Uber’s target. Already working on driverless cars, the company’s future-oriented strategy now includes Vertical Takeoff and Landing Technology (VTOL). As mentioned in Atherton’s article, there are some major benefits of VTOL. From being able to take off from anywhere to efficient flight patterns using wings instead of blades, the possibilities are endless.
With that being said, two major obstacles stand in front of Uber’s flying car aspirations. For one, from a regulation standpoint, there is no doubt that the U.S. FAA and the Department of Homeland Security will not permit one-person drones flying over any major city. During a Wired interview, when asked about certification roadblocks, Ehang’s CFO Shang Hsiao said, “because the 184 AAV represents an entirely new category of technology, there are regulations and agencies that are still catching up. We are in unchartered waters and are working closely with government agencies across the planet to develop and regulate the future of transportation.”
The second obstacle, just like FAA regulations, is the safety of VTOL’s. Atherton’s Popular Science article references VTOL’s dark history. Tested by both the U.S. Marines and Air Force, the initial V-22 Transport flights resulted in 4 crashes and 30 total deaths (16 years after its first flight).
Uber’s vision to add passenger drones like the EHang 184 to its rideshare fleet is far from becoming a reality. As the company’s head of product Jeff Holden so eloquently put it, “the technology could be in use within a decade, which is an aggressive prediction, given the issues around the complexity of movement in the air above densely populated areas.”
To read Kelsey Atherton’s entire feature article on Popular Science, click here:
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