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Uber planning ‘skyports’ for flying taxi service in LA

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Electric aircraft could land and take off from the Gensler-designed stations

The Uber skyports would include pickup/dropoff areas and retail space.
Renderings courtesy Gensler

Fresh off its initial public offering, ride-hailing company Uber is continuing efforts to bring its taxi-like service skyward and this week revealed new details about a helicopter-like service it plans to roll out in Los Angeles and Dallas.

The company already flies well-heeled travelers from Los Angeles to Indio every year for Coachella, but Uber has much bigger ambitions for the service it’s tentatively calling Uber Air.

At a conference in Washington, D.C., Mark Moore, engineering director of vehicle systems for Uber, said Wednesday that the company could eventually oversee production of 10,000 electric aircraft annually.

Uber plans to launch the service in Los Angeles by 2023.

With so many vehicles projected to be zipping around the city’s skies, the company is planning to construct “skyports” where passengers can board aircraft en route to another hub.

Architecture firm Gensler revealed plans Tuesday detailing what these flying taxi stations might actually look like.

According to Gensler, the skyports will be distributed throughout Los Angeles and other cities at strategic points where passengers can easily access public transportation or shared devices like bikes and scooters. Relatively cookie-cutter by design, they’ll be quick to build and can be constructed from the ground up or added to an existing structure.

The stations could be constructed from the ground up or added to existing buildings.
A prototype of the style of electric aircraft Uber Air would use.

In preliminary designs, the skyports appear similar to bus depots or mini airports, with pickup and dropoff areas, along with places to shop, eat, and wait for a ride.

The stations would also include charging stations for the electric vehicles and rooftop helipads with loading/unloading zones for as many as eight vehicles.

Uber also unveiled renderings of the vehicles themselves, which include four passenger seats and a small storage space for baggage. The company expects the cost of operating a helicopter will be close to $700 per flight hour, so flying in one of these vehicles is likely to be a lot pricier than an UberX ride.