Uber to launch helicopter service in NYC next month

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Following on but unrelated to its more luxury-focused Uber Copter, which launches in New York City in July, Uber this week announced Uber Air, an all-electric flying taxi service that it hopes to begin testing in Australia next year.

"We will see other Australian cities following soon after".

Regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia Susan Anderson said the move was possible because of forward-thinking Australian governments.

So, why Melbourne? It's not Australia's largest or most cosmopolitan city, though it's reasonably close on both counts.

Last year, Uber revealed the global cities it was considering for launching the aviation project.

"The 19km journey from the CBD to Melbourne airport can take anywhere from 25 minutes to around an hour by vehicle in peak hour, but with Uber Air this will take around 10 minutes", Allison said.

The 19km journey from Melbourne's CBD to Tullamarine airport now takes anywhere from 25 minutes to more than an hour in peak hour by auto, but is expected to take just 10 minutes by air.

Commercial operation of the service will begin in 2023.

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Several companies are developing flying taxis as a future mode of transportation.

"This, coupled with Melbourne's unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the ideal third launch city for Uber Air".

Uber has struck agreements with Macquarie Capital, Telstra, Westfield shopping centres owner Scentre Group, and Melbourne Airport to construct "city skyports" to host the Uber Air shuttles.

The Uber Air service is created to work in tandem with Uber's auto service as a "multimodal" option that helps speed passengers to their destinations.

Uber's planned air fleet includes electric jet-powered vehicles - part helicopter, part drone and part fixed-wing aircraft - running multiple small rotors capable of both vertical take-off and landing and rapid horizontal flight.

The news came at the Uber Elevate Summit in Washington, where the California-based ride-hailing giant offered new details on its vision for flying taxis as a way to ease traffic congestion and improve urban mobility.

"In the coming years, with Uber Air, we want to make it possible for people to push a button and get a flight".

In a statement, Cynthia Whelan, chief strategy and business development officer over at Scentre Group, said Uber had picked them as a "preferred infrastructure partner" largely due to their "strategic locations" around town.

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