Uber takes its flying taxi ambitions to Australia

Flying Uber trial to take place in Melbourne from 2020

"This, coupled with Melbourne's unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the flawless third launch city for Uber Air". As TechCrunch reports, Uber's head of Elevate, Eric Allison, gave a presentation Tuesday about how the company expects the economics of electric helicopter services should make it cheaper than owning a vehicle, and just as cheap as ordering an Uber X within a few years.

Uber also displayed the concept Bell Nexus flying quadcopter vehicle unveiled this year, expected to be part of the Uber fleet, and new designs for its "skyports" that will make up the network for the aircraft.

Uber Air shuttles could soon be a familiar sight in the skies above Melbourne.

The first test city, originally planned to be Dubai, will now be Melbourne, Australia, as the company announced today.

Uber also announced it will be partnering with Telstra, Scentre Group and Macquarie to support the infrastructure required to launch the surface.

Uber says the project has the backing of the State Government, along with private enterprises including Melbourne Airport, Telstra, and Scentre Group, which owns and runs Westfield centres across Australia and New Zealand.

"Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology", she said.

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Uber is not the only company experimenting with flying taxis, reminiscent of the mode of transport in the American cartoon "The Jetsons".

The legal nod to operate in Victoria was coupled with a AU$1 levy imposed on all commercial trips from July 2018, with the revenue raised touted as replacing licence fees in order to help compensate taxi operators.

The rideshare company has been a disruptor to traditional taxi services in Australia and is now facing a class action lawsuit from taxi drivers.

Uber expects the second-most popular route will be between Melbourne and Geelong, a 75km trip that takes over an hour by auto but would be cut to less than 20 minutes by air.

"We're thrilled that Melbourne has been chosen to partner with Uber Elevate to help start, nurture and grow what could become a new industry, revolutionising travel across the world", Victorian Treasurer and Minister for Economic Development Tim Pallas said.

"On-demand aviation has the potential to change the way we think about urban transportation, and radically improve urban mobility by giving people back time lost in their daily commutes".

Updated at 10.45am AEST, 12 June 2019: Added comments from the Victorian government.

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