Uber Flying Taxi

Autonomous flying taxis soon in the skies over Paris?

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Uber announced on May 23rd that it will open a research station Uber Elevate in Paris. Its researchers will devote the next five years, and around €20 million, to research on how to navigate autonomous flying taxis in air traffic and how to comply with European regulations. This is a strategic challenge that complements the development of all types of autonomous vehicles that major cities in general and Paris in particular wish to put into service.
 
L’Uber's announcement was made in a particular context, that of the meeting of the President of the Republic with sixty of the major players in the new global technologies, on 23 May last.
 
After Pittsburgh, Toronto and San Francisco, the American company has chosen Paris to set up a research centre - called ATCP (Advanced Technologies Center of Paris) - which will initially be dedicated to the Uber flying taxi project, Uber Elevate. The choice of the capital was not random. Indeed, in Uber's eyes, the city has a real talent pool in the field of AI.
French researchers will be recruited to work also on the whole environment that would allow the development of this new transport activity. A difficult task when you consider the current number of air restrictions in public space.
 
This center " will be dedicated to airspace management, autonomy, real-time communication networks, energy storage and recharging systems. ", the company explains in a press release.
In an interview with the daily Les Echos, the CEO of Uber Dara Khosrowshahi clarifies the intentions of his company: " The Elevate project consists of adding a third dimension to mass transport for longer distances within 'super-cities'."
 
 

New mobility solutions in urban areas

Uber's project aims to imagine new mobility solutions in urban areas. Eric Allison, the head of Uber Elevate, explains his company's vision in an interview with the Journal du net : " Adding extra roads does not solve the problem of traffic congestion in cities. In addition, it is very difficult to build new infrastructure due to a lack of space. In conclusion, there is every reason to believe that urban traffic will not improve. Our conclusion is that we must therefore change the rules of the game by creating urban air transport. "The solution? The construction of a network of Vertical Takeoff and Landing Vehicles (VTOLs) equipped with an electric propulsion system. These vehicles will take off and land in skyports, bases that will be located on the roofs of buildings. Eric Allison states that " The Uber platform will take care of your entire journey by combining air and road modes of transport, likely including autonomous cars. "
 
The first vehicles Uber imagines will be able to carry four passengers and will be driven, initially by a pilot. Soon these vehicles will become autonomous and will be able to run races up to a distance of 75 km. The price of the race will be calculated to "make these journeys accessible to as many people as possible on a daily basis" promises Uber Elevate's boss.
 
The company plans to commercially launch its service in 2023, but by 2020 the first demonstrations will take place in Los Angeles and Dallas. A third non-American city is in the process of being decided. Paris could be that one.
 

Ile-de-France, "the world's leading region for autonomous vehicles".

Indeed, both the capital and the Ile-de-France region are developing a number of projects to transform the mobility of Parisians and Ile-de-France residents by deliberately moving towards autonomous vehicles. Valérie Pécresse, the President of the Ile-de-France Regional Council, has the unashamed ambition to " Making Ile-de-France, the world's leading region for autonomous vehicles! "Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne wants to take advantage of this momentum and has just announced at the VivaTech trade fair that she will authorise experiments without drivers on board as of 2019. Next year.
 
Large transport organisations and a host of startups are rushing to launch new projects, some of which are worthy of a science fiction novel. The RATP, in association with Toulouse-based startup Eva, is defending, somewhat in competition with Uber, a project for driverless flying taxis, which will be able to fly at an altitude of 300 metres at a speed of 300 km/hour. According to Le ParisienThe first full-scale prototype could be tested at the end of 2018 and an experiment in an urban environment could take place during 2019.
 
But the battle for autonomy won't just be fought in the air. Buses without drivers could come into being much faster than expected. RATP is planning a full-scale experiment from the second half of 2018, on the current line 393 between Sucy and Bonneuil in Val-de-Marne.
From 2019 onwards, robot taxis will be driving on the motorways in the Paris region. The president of the region, Valérie Pécresse, announced last week that she had earmarked 100 million euros to modify roads and motorways to enable them to accommodate fleets of driverless taxis very quickly.
 
UAVs with passengers, vertical take-off aircraft, taxis without drivers, autonomous shuttles, unmanned trains, the landscape of our roads and cities will change much faster than we expected. New regulations, risk and liability management will have to be devised. Innovation in all directions is in the offing.
Will there still be strikes by railway workers at the SNCF and drivers at the RATP?
 

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