It is a very intriguing move, but what are the current ambitions for a project this big?
Uber intends to roll out this service by using things called eVTOLs. This stands for electric vertical take-off and landing. For all intents and purposes, it’s a helicopter that uses electronic technology. By using these, it is hoped that it can avoid the extreme noise generated by lots of helicopters flying around the city at once.
Currently, they want to keep the helicopter noise at around 67 decibels for people on the ground. By comparison, that’s similar to the standard noise generated by busy traffic. It sounds promising, but many residents and experts believe the Uber-copters need to be much quieter than this to avoid disruption.
321 kilometres per hour for up to 60 miles
Details of Uber’s ambitions for Melbourne were revealed in a secret document. One of the key details was that these electric choppers would be able to travel up to 321kph, for up to 60 miles. This could drastically improve transportation efficiency in this busy city! Imagine being able to hop in a helicopter and zip over traffic to your destination.
The flights themselves are around 475m in the air. So, it’s not too high in the sky, and certainly nowhere near the altitude of a plane.
83 skyports and 1000 helicopters in Melbourne
Perhaps the most ambitious thing about this move is how Uber plans to implement it in the city. They propose 83 skyports should be built on top of buildings, and 1000 helicopters can be released in the city.
So, if you live in Melbourne and see a lot of construction work happening on tall buildings, then you could be witnessing the birth of an Uber skyport!
While all of this sounds very cool, there are some concerns surrounding the concept. The main one is the noise in the air that a 1000 helicopters will make. Granted, Uber is working with companies like Tesla, who are trying to develop quiet, fully electric, choppers. But, it’s unsure if these will be in existence for another few years. Uber is looking to start rolling trials for this service by the end of the year!
It is both exciting and somewhat nerve-wracking to think about this type of transportation. If done well, it can revolutionise the city and clear up a lot of traffic issues. However, many Australian cities have already experienced issues with drone delivery services in the past. The noise and lack of airspace control over them have been a concern in Canberra. So, there’s the fear that similar issues will present themselves in Melbourne - but on a larger scale.
In summary, we could see 'Uber Air' trials in Melbourne in 2020. However, it’s expected that we won’t see this in full-operation until 2023 - provided the trials go well!