Global ride-sharing service Uber announced this afternoon that it is partnering with Aurora Flight Sciences to develop an all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for its proposed Uber Elevate Network, which includes passenger transport and package delivery. The announcement was made at the three-day industry Elevate Summit that kicked off today in Dallas to discuss the future of urban vertical flight.
The partnership agreement provides the basis for a system of urban transportation solutions that will enable users of the Uber Elevate Network to request an Aurora eVTOL aircraft via Uber apps. Aurora successfully flew a test aircraft on Thursday. The agreement calls for the delivery of 50 test vehicles by 2020. Aurora’s eVTOL is derived from its XV-24A VTOL military X-plane project.
Under terms of the deal, Aurora will develop the vehicle while Uber will participate in the creation of airspace control software and hardware for the management of Pilot VTOLs on the Elevate Network, and provide interface connectivity with airspace controllers/regulators.
In collaboration with the American Helicopter Society (AHS), Uber made the case for urban vertical flight last year in a widely distributed white paper titled “Fast-Forwarding to the Future of On-Demand Urban Air Transportation.” Benefits conveyed by the widespread deployment of such a system, according to Uber, include congestion reduction, time savings and overall lower infrastructure costs compared with ground-based transportation.