Aside from coasting around on conveyor belts or hanging out with Astro the dog, one of the cooler things about The Jetsons was the fact that everybody got around in flying cars. George would pile in his family. You know the drill – his boy Elroy, daughter Judy and Jane his wife. Off they went traversing across the skies from point A to point B.
That was set in 2062. While we’re 44 years away from that (according to cartoon technology standards at least), the automotive world is making steady progress towards that goal. Uber and NASA have recently teamed up to develop an electric aircraft taxi service, with flights scheduled to begin in Los Angeles by 2020.
The service dubbed UberAIR would work in the same vein as today’s regular Uber – request a taxi through the Uber app, a vehicle arrives to pick you up and a payment is charged to credit card details stored within the app after you arrive at your destination. The key difference, of course, it won’t be a Prius rolling up to greet you; that’s what a VTOL is for – a Vertical Take-off and Landing vehicle.
It’s all in the name – the VTOL can take off and land vertically. With no need for runways and being fully electric, VTOLs are an efficient, environmentally friendly way to travel. Uber claims a typical 80-minute journey in LA traffic would take less than 30 minutes in the sky, so in New Zealand terms, it’s like travelling from Auckland airport to the North Shore in less than half an hour.
No word yet on whether UberEATS and UberAIR plan on merging, but someone should get onto that stat – now that would be uber!