The ride sharing service Uber wants to use Dallas as a launching pad for an airborne taxi service.
The company calls them VTOLs or electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles. It hopes they will “provide a safe, reliable transportation service to everyone, everywhere.”
Local and industry leaders were invited to attend a summit in Dallas to learn more about the plans. Mayor Mike Rawlings and Ross Perot Jr. were among the speakers on Tuesday.
"We've gone north, we've gone south, we've gone east and we've gone west -- let's go vertical. I am so proud Dallas has been chosen as the initial market of Uber elevate,” Rawlings said. "I think it is looking at a greater, more efficient mode of transportation that is both safe, reliable, affordable and something that we never thought would take place, unless you believed the cartoon show ‘The Jetsons’ would actually happened.”
Ideally people will be able to summon a ride using the app and soar across the city in minutes. What might normally take two hours would end up being just a 15 minute trip. Test flights are scheduled to begin in 2020 in both Dallas and in the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
While it may sound far-fetched, the Aviation Director of Engineering at Uber technologies says, it's all possible because of an amazing convergence of technology.
"I just came from 32 years at NASA, developing electric aircraft and we've got autonomy, we've got electric propulsion and all sorts of advance sensors that are coming together to create this great new capability in these new aircraft,” said Mark Moore, Uber aviation engineer.
Perot Jr. said he’s partnered with Uber to build the vertical launch pads for the vehicles in Dallas.
Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopters is one of several companies working to develop the electric aircraft in a partnership with Uber.