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Uber’s eco-friendly passenger drone is here

Following several years of problematic vehicle testing, Uber is at last taking to the skies with a new passenger aircraft that it hopes to launch by 2023.

You may be familiar with Uber for all the wrong reasons. The company has faced scrutiny over the last few years for failing to meet international safety standards, breaching advertisement policies, and for allegations of spying.

One of the biggest shocks was the accidental death of a pedestrian in 2018 following Uber’s test of self-driving automated cars in Arizona. The incident lead to the company halting its self-driving endeavours, leaving its testing license to expire.

Experimenting with new ways to travel has not exactly been the company’s strong suit, to put it mildly.

It looks as though things may be turning around, however, with the launch of an on-demand helicopter service in New York starting next month, alongside the reveal of a passenger aircraft drone that could be useable in less than five years’ time.

Uber claims the passenger drone, which is a hybrid aeroplane-helicopter aircraft, could eventually fly at 150mph and will not use any fossil fuels. Try saying that three times fast.

It’s worth noting that these new vehicles won’t be automated and will all be driven by human pilots. We’re not quite at the automated, hoverboard metropolis future yet, but we reckon it’s probably around the corner.

A mock-up displaying the full interior of a potential upcoming model was constructed with Bipolar Studio and is titled ‘North Star’. This first design is thought to serve as a guide to flying workable builds moving forward, and was shown during a company conference in Washington, DC.

The service could eventually cost about as much as an Uber Black ride and can hold up to four passengers. Luxury is the main focus, with leather seating and customisable interiors that can be changed to suit customer or pilot needs. Very handy.

If you can’t wait for 2023 which is…well, quite reasonable, then you can always give the new Uber Copter ride a go in NYC. The trip can be booked in-app and flies to John F. Kennedy International Airport. It’ll cost you a fair bit more than your usual taxi ride, mind, with an average cost between $200 and $225 per person. Better start saving.

All of this new travel tech is worth getting excited about. We’re likely to see more affordable innovation within the on-demand industry as time goes on.

It’s all the sweeter when you consider that Uber is dedicated to eco-friendly fuel consumption, with completely electricity-based designs that won’t go near fossil fuels. No emissions and a quick trip through the skies? It’s the next best thing to actually being able to fly yourself.