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Uber Elevate: the future of Uber Coper

Updated: Jun 18, 2019

The San Francisco based multinational network company (TNC), Uber Technologies Inc. known for its array of services including ride service hailing, peer to peer ride sharing, bicycle-sharing and food delivery is set to change the dynamics of the transportation sector with what it describes as Uber Elevate. In line with the vision of the company which is to get a ride on the tap of a button, Uber Elevate seeks to reduce the routine congestion that is routinely typical on our roads by utilizing the airways more efficiently.

Seemingly, the Uber elevate is simply an answer to the popular concern and question: Can Uber be found in the air? Flowing series of analysis and evaluation of the potential challenges which the initiative may likely pose, the answer was in the positive. YES! Uber can be seen in the air. Simply put, Uber Elevate is a transportation concept which enables reliable, affordable, rapid aerial transit of people from point A to B through a network of small electric VTOLs (eVTOLs).

VTOLs are electrically driven and designed to take off and land vertically. Other desirable qualities of this prototype include the noise minimizing attribute, energy efficient make and the safety it arrives with for the potential commuters.

What is Uber trying to do?

Owing to development and population surge, a significant amount of our time is wasted on the road globally. An estimate by Uber reveals that about 230 hours were spent by travellers to transit between their homes and workplace last year in San Francisco. Similarly, gridlocks have caused the locals in Sydney, and Los Angeles spent a time amount, which is equivalent to about seven working weeks to commute on roads. Globally, while several big cities are worst hit by this situation, others are not.

What does this imply? This means loss of productive work time, limited time with families and friends, less time to focus on national growth, surging demand for the traditional fuels and increasing stress to the human body. On-demand aerial transit has the potential to thoroughly revamp municipal mobility thus would give back the hours lost on the routine journeys we make.

The VTOL aircraft will promote rapid movement between cities and the suburbs. The vision conceived by Uber is ambitious but can be realized in the nearest future. The communities in which it will operate, vehicle designers, ecosystem regulators, operators are all expected to work together effectively. Uber wants to:

· Operate an Efficient transit system:

Currently, helicopters are almost synonymous with the planned VTOLs by Uber. However, unlike the helicopters that operate under an inefficient regime, VTOL Uber copters are designed to operate under an efficient and economically viable regime. Built to be operated under simple distributed electric propulsion (DEP), a significant efficiency is expected. The DEP will overcome the basic limitations of helicopter edgewise rotor flight providing an efficient lifting mechanism to the Uber copters.

· Utilize Battery Technology:

Uber Copters are conceived to be driven by electric propulsion with the battery system as the sole source of energy. There are a few considerations which Uber intends to put in place regarding this energy source prior to its operation. The specific energy – this is referred to as the quantum of energy per unit weight that the battery can give. The specific energy determines the overall mass of the vehicle. Similarly, the charge rate; regarded as the duration it takes the drained battery to be charged to its capacity; a feature which is used in accessing the overall idle time of the vehicle. Contemporary battery charge rates take longer duration than necessary and for this reason, cannot support high-frequency transits operations. Uber copters is aiming for a high and rapidly charging batteries to cater for the high-frequency transit operation it envisages. Cost per kilowatt hour and cycle life are other parameters which Uber hopes to bring to standard prior to full operation.

· Ensure Vehicle Reliability and Performance: One vital component which the VTOL helicopter proposes is that of time-saving. The ridesharing prototype will considerably minimize the duration between request and drop-off. The determinants of time-saving include; vehicle performance; precisely take off, landing and the cruise pace. More so, the system reliability considered as the duration between request and pick up. To carter for these concerns, Uber air hopes to design vehicles for 150 – 200 mph cruise speeds with about a minute take off time and landing

· Minimize Cost and Affordability As discussed earlier, the conventional helicopters are almost similar to the proposed VTOLs, but they are not affordable, and cost high to pass for transportation services. Also, they are not energy efficient, noisy, and are not easy to maintain. The significant noise they produce makes them improper for city shuffling; hence, the demand for helicopters is limited. Uber plans a more quiet and efficient air vehicle which takes advantage of the digital control mechanism rather than mechanical. Expectations are that the vicious cycle of the high cost will come to an end.

· Be More Safety Conscious: Uber Copters proposes a safer transit from point A to B than driving a car would. According to Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 135 operations, on-demand flights have on an average, twice the number of fatality rate of privately run cars. This is about to end; because Uber is envisaging a VTOL that is twice as safe as driving. The DEP and pilot augmentation are also a principal component of the safety equation.

· Reduce Aircraft Noise Considerably: In other that the urban locals accept aircraft, then one key component to take into considerations is the noise. The aim is to achieve a noise level that significantly blends with the noise level of the environment. The expectation is to design VTOL that is one-half as loud as a medium sized truck. Yet again, the electric propulsion is vital to enhance engine noise and the thrust noise from the propulsion

· End CO2 Emissions:

Transportation account for the significant amount of greenhouse gases discharged to the atmosphere. The traditional aircraft engines operate either on gasoline (typically 100 Low Lead aviation fuel for piston engines), or jet fuel for turbine engines; not environmentally friendly. The concern of city dwellers is that of pollution. For the acceptability, the Air vehicles will represent a new form and large scale city transit; for this reason, it must be environmentally sustainable and responsible. The complete air vehicle serves as that much-anticipated solution; generating a zero in-flight carbon emission and providing a pathway towards considerable lower carbon regime

Uber Elevated Submit; the discuss continues

Jeff Holden, the company’s head of Product-related quite a hand full about the project back in November 2017. At the time, The Verge quoted “It hopes to launch tests in Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai by 2020, and envisions customers booking seats on an aircraft via the app, much like a regular taxi, and then catching it from a rooftop". In May 2018, the ride-sharing company hosted yet another submit; one that gave a clear signal on their dedication to the project; “the future flying cars”. The second annual submit “Elevate Summit” took place in Los Angeles; a town where the inauguration would be held a couple of years later. The meeting, which was an invite-only event saw an Uber spokesperson revealing to project promoters that the much anticipated flying cars, were much becoming a reality than not. Several firms had since indicated interest to design the prototype including; Airbus, Kitty Hawk, and Boeing, he added.

The much-awaited staple of science-fiction had been made manifest, and this was the highlight of the 2019 Uber Elevate Summit. At the summit, held in Los Angeles, Uber showed off the flying cars of the future for urban cities. About four new prototypes were unveiled. It was the second conference since the engagement of the NASA researcher; Mark Moore as the Director of engineering.

Uber is committed about its scheduled commencement date of 2023. Though concerns on the possibility of commencement are high, Uber seems not perturbed as it emphasizes that testing will be done by 2020 on scheduled cities including Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth. The objective is to singly provide air flying taxis to commuters at a rate that is equivalent to Uber ride on the ground.

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