Uber has whipped the curtains off its first prototype passenger drone, which it says will be able to whisk passengers to their destinations at up to 150mph.
The company's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi revealed the design at its annual Uber Elevate Summit in Washington – an event dedicated to its plans for 'aerial ridesharing'.
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The new design resembles a cross between a plane and a helicopter, with a rotor to get the craft in the air and wings to provide lift once it's up to speed.
"It's called the compound aircraft, and what it's doing is really trying to get the best of both worlds of hover and high-speed efficient flight," Uber's head of engineering Mark Moore told Business Insider (opens in new tab) at the event.
A flying start
Companies around the world are working on their own visions of flying cars, but Uber is one of the most ambitious. It's already in talks with city authorities, and hopes to start carrying out test flights in built-up areas next year.
Melbourne, Dallas and Los Angeles have all put themselves forward as potential sites for the first round of flights, which are expected to cost the same as an Uber Black ride when the service launches. Eventually, Uber hopes that summoning its plane/copter will be cheaper than hailing a cab.
Uber isn't the only company in the flying taxi business though, and Voom (backed by Airbus) has announced plans to extend its aerial passenger service to several new locations in the US within a few months. According to Fast Company (opens in new tab), Voom has been cagey about prices, but says that its new services will be competitive with catching a ride on terra firma.
Voom has a head start, having launched its service in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2017. Unlike Uber, however, it uses conventional helicopters, which are much louder, less green and slower than the new Elevate concept.
That might change soon, though, as Voom's parent company Airbus has several flying car designs in the works. These could eventually be summoned with a quick tap of an app, but for now its plans are up in the air.