Uber Air will use a network of small and electric aircraft using vertical take-off and landing technology in Melbourne, Dallas and Los Angeles.

By Ian Horswill

Posted on June 12, 2019

Ridesharing service Uber has named the Australian city of Melbourne, along with Dallas and Los Angeles in the US, as the cities to trial its air-travel service Uber Air.

The company announced Uber Air will use a network of small and electric aircraft using vertical take-off and landing technology (VTOL).

Uber’s long-term vision is for safe, quiet electric vehicles transporting tens of thousands of people across cities for the same price as an Uber trip over the same distance.

Test flights will begin next year with commercial operations by 2023, the company said in a statement.

“Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology,” Susan Anderson, Uber’s general manager for Australia, New Zealand, and North Asia, said from Washington D.C.

“Uber’s technology is changing the way people move around their cities — from bikes to pooled rides, we are always looking for ways to reduce the need for private car ownership. In the coming years, with Uber Air, we want to make it possible for people to push a button and get a flight.

“This, coupled with Melbourne’s unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the perfect third launch city for Uber Air. We will see other Australian cities following soon after.”

Uber also announced partnerships with leading Australian companies, Macquarie, Telstra, and Scentre Group, owner and operator of Westfield in Australia and New Zealand, and will work with key existing partners including Melbourne Airport who collectively will support the infrastructure and telecommunications needed to create a successful urban aviation network.

Uber Air landing port Photo: Uber

“As the gateway to Melbourne for tens of millions of travellers each year, we can see fantastic potential for Uber Air in the future. We look forward to continuing this exciting conversation, and working with government, regulators and our local communities to make this happen,” said Lorie Argus, Chief of Parking & Ground Access at Melbourne Airport.

“Macquarie Capital is excited to be partnering with Uber Elevate on the development and electrification of the skyports that will support vertical takeoff and landing, as well as determining the best market structures and models for this infrastructure,” said Greg Callman, Global Head of Energy Technology at Macquarie Capital.

“We look forward to leveraging our expertise in infrastructure, charging, and energy, along with innovation driven by Uber and other partners to accelerate the move toward electric air mobility.”

“Telstra is excited to be part of a truly momentous point in time for Melbourne on the world stage. Our network strength, coverage and leadership in 5G, along with our ongoing work on drones and related standards, will support Uber’s incredible technology and innovation to develop a service we have all imagined would one day be possible,” said Andrew Penn, Chief Executive Officer, Telstra.

“We will be working closely with Uber over the next 12 months to assess what network infrastructure, connectivity requirements and other capabilities would be needed to support airspace mobility in urban centres. It is a testament to Telstra’s network and technology capability that we are part of this exciting future,” said Penn.

“Scentre Group is pleased to have been selected to work with Uber Elevate as preferred infrastructure partner and alongside other companies, government and regulatory agencies to explore future mobility options for our customers,” said Cynthia Whelan, Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer, Scentre Group.

“Today’s announcement recognises the strategic locations of our Westfield centres, which are regarded as integral social infrastructure because of their close proximity to customers, communities and transport hubs,” she continued.