Not content with putting taxi drivers out of business, or throwing money into self-driving cars, Uber is now looking at a brand new way to get people around cities quickly. The company is actually, seriously, doing some research into short-haul aircraft that can take off and land vertically (better known as VTOL).
This was announced yesterday by Jeff Holden, Uber's products head. Speaking at the Nantucket Conference, he said that the company was taking an interest in this research "so [it] can someday offer our customers as many options as possible to move around," adding, "doing it in a three-dimensional way is an obvious thing to look at." He also added that the aircraft could land on top of buildings, cutting down on congestion and commuting time.
Holden predicted that the appropriate tech could exist within the next decade, which seems a pretty bold statement. We've been promised flying cars for many a decade, and VTOL has been near the top of the list of practical ways it could be accomplished. But still nothing concrete has ever been produced.
This is very much an early stage concept, and Holden didn't offer any details about what these hypothetical aircraft might look like. It's fair to say that they'll be nothing like the VTOL aircraft we have in the world already. Launching a helicopter-based transport business would be the least original idea conceivable, especially since Uber already did that a few months ago. Plus, the likes of the harrier would be a bit impractical (and conspicuous) for short-haul flights.
Needless to say it's not the kind of vehicle regular people will be able to hop in and fly about on a whim. Flying is hard, and people are stupid. Hopefully, if and when this idea becomes a reality, Skynet will have developed enough to do all the flying for us. [Re-code]