DALLAS - Dallas is set to become one of the world’s first UberAIR cities with flying taxis in the sky in the coming years.
Mayor Mike Rawlings spoke again this year at the Uber Elevate Summit in Los Angeles to update attendees on the progress that has been made in the city since last year’s summit. He says flying over traffic will not be the silver bullet to beat gridlock, but it's a step in the right direction.
“You're not going to solve it with one thing,” the mayor said. “But as you focus on the next five to six years to have different elements like this, it will help us around the edges."
The new video animation shows the ambitious vision for bringing flying shuttle service to Dallas in just five years. The company will have an urban airport called a "skyport,” where passengers would board Uber aircraft.
The goal is to make Dallas among the first cities in the world to take Uber passengers from the curb to the cockpit and back by 2023. The company hopes the cost will then become comparable to a ride in an Uber car.
When approached in 2017, even Rawlings said the timeline seemed steep.
“I’ll admit I was initially skeptical, particularly of their aggressive timeline,” the mayor said. “But at the end of the meeting, I told the team I wanted an assurance. I wanted Dallas to be the first city in America to launch Uber Elevates.”
A panel of reps for companies trying to actually build the flying taxis described the timeline as feasible, but challenging. In addition, regulations for flying taxis are still murky, including what part of the FAA guidelines it falls under. One of the companies working on it is North Texas-based Bell. What is certain is that the ideas are cutting edge.
Dallas design director Chuck Armstrong created a new animation showing the versatility and potential of an urban skyport and what it might look like over a traffic corridor like Klyde Warren Park.
"I think in 2023 we can expect to see a station in Downtown Dallas, in Downtown Fort Worth and at the airport DFW airport, potentially possibly Love Field and maybe even up in Frisco,” Armstrong said. “The whole idea of UberAIR and the VTOL is that anybody can take it just like you would take an Uber today. You would call it up on your phone and it would say, ‘Go to your craft in the next five minutes.’"
Uber said it also wants to build skyports on existing parking garages so it doesn't have to build as much. Potential future stops under consideration include AT&T Stadium for a trip to a Cowboys game or Toyota's new massive headquarters in Plano.
Last year, Uber shared maps and animations that showed an UberAIR ride from DFW Airport to Frisco. The ride would take over an hour in a regular Uber car while it would take only eight minutes in an UberAIR.
On Wednesday the architectural design firm BOKA Powell is expected present renderings for a skyport structure that could accommodate 1000 takeoffs and 1,000 landings per hour. It would have six takeoff and six landing pads.
NASA announced Tuesday it has signed an agreement with Uber and will begin simulations on urban air mobility vehicles including delivery drones. The space agency said the simulations are planned at its research facility at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.