It’s hard to see how Uber could improve on their current model, but a concept that was debuted at this year’s CES could be taking things to (literally) new heights.
The company announced a partnership last year with Bell Helicopter for an “urban air taxi,” and we finally have an idea of what they may look like. And it’s certainly a 5 star ride.
The concept released at CES is reasonably bare, but it gives a great look at the vehicle’s potential feel. Blue LEDs line a sleek, black interior where each seat has an “infotainment” display. Riders can take part in conference calls and share documents along the way.
An augmented reality simulator at CES let visitors get a feel for the inside cabin and replicated several types of journey, from a cross town trip to a red carpet premier landing.
Bell CEO Mitch Snyder said the “future of urban air taxi is closer than many people realize.” He believes in “the positive impact our design will have on addressing transportation concerns in cities worldwide.”
Bell said that his company’s air vehicles would be able to fly around 2,000 hour per year with regular maintenance, and would be completely “modular, adaptable, and scalable.” A variety of powerplants would be able to be used, and both civil passenger and military uses are already in the works.
The vehicles would most likely be certified for safety concerns under the Federal Aviation Administration’s new “powered lift” category. Air taxis would operate at an estimated cost of $1.30 for every mile traveled, which works out to about 1/3 the price of a traditional turbine helicopter.
It’s not likely that air taxis will challenge traditional road travel any time soon (especially as self driving vehicles become more popular), but the fact that this is in the works in good news for places facing greater road congestion than ever before.