Uber wants to build flying taxis. The skyports are ‘straight out of Star Wars’

Uber is opening up a contest to find the third international city to debut its flying taxi technology, according to Reuters. Screenshot (courtesy)

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Uber has opened up a contest to find the third city to debut its flying taxi technology, according to Reuters.

Uber plans to test the product in Los Angeles and Dallas and proposed Dubai as the third city, but delays forced the company to seek out another international location, company officials announced at the Uber Elevate Summit this week.

“The company said it will consider cities with a metropolitan population of greater than 2 million people, with dispersed population hubs, an airport at least an hour away from the city center and which is willing to back pooled ride-sharing services,” according to Reuters.

The UberAIR service hopes to launch demo flights in 2020. Flights between cities would begin in 2023.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said launching the air taxis by that deadline is ambitious.

"There's a lot that has to come together," he said, according to Mashable.

He said the company wants to launch crafts that can fly 60 miles on a single charge at above 1,000 feet of altitude.

But it will be tricky to achieve intra-city travel since there are “technical limitations, regulatory hurdles, and high costs for everyone: Uber, its partners, cities, and customers,” according to Mashable.

Khosrowshahi said it’s a “real challenge” to get UberAir to that point.

Uber’s architect and design partners showed off concepts of the skyports at the Elevate conference as well. The designs are “beautiful,” according to TechCrunch. Or, as The Verge said, they’re “straight out of Star Wars."

But they might not be financially viable for many cities.

“Some of the designs aim to retrofit existing buildings with landing pads, to help keep costs low and improve the project’s chances of scaling citywide,” The Verge reported. “But most of the firms let their imaginations run wild as they sought to conceptualize what a futuristic ‘flying taxi’ service would look like.”

One of the structures has a beehive design that can hold about 900 passengers every hour. The structures use sustainable material that are easy on the environment.

Herb Scribner, Deseret News

This article originally ran on deseretnews.com.