Uber to team with Hillwood, Bell Helicopter on urban aviation plan

Uber rendering

North Texas appears to be key to Uber’s plans for on-demand urban aviation.

Uber is taking to the skies with its next project — “flying cars.”

On Tuesday, the ride-hailing company announced plans for an on-demand network of electric aircraft that can take off and land vertically, like a helicopter. It wants to test a network for such vehicles by 2020.

The company says its partners in this Elevate initiative include real estate companies, aircraft manufacturers, electric vehicle charger makers and the cities of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Dallas and Fort Worth.

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“This program is revolutionary and future-oriented which is why Fort Worth is a perfect partner to base the Elevate pilot,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price in a statement. “We have Alliance and DFW airports in our backyard and are close in proximity to other major cities. As the Western part of the Dallas – Fort Worth area, the 4th largest metro area in the nation, there is huge growth potential. Plus, Fort Worth is a progressive and business friendly city that encourages innovation.”

Uber’s Jeff Holden says urban aviation “is a natural next step for Uber.”

At the company’s Elevate conference in Dallas, the company announced it was partnering with Hillwood Properties and Bell Helicopter to bring its idea of urban aviation to fruition.

Uber said it will team up with Dallas, Fort Worth and Dubai to bring those flying taxis here first. It will also work with Hillwood to locate the best sites for its urban aviation plans. Bell Helicopte, a pioneer of vertical lift aircraft, will be working with Uber to “accelerate the eventual large-scale deployment of electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (VTOLs) in order to fulfill its mission of providing a safe, reliable transportation service to everyone, everywhere.”

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Uber also announced today that it has selected Aurora Flight Sciences as a partner to develop electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for its Uber Elevate Network.

“Uber is taking a big step forward toward making the world’s first VTOL network a reality and our partnership with Aurora Flight Sciences will help get us off the ground,” said Mark Moore, director of Engineering for Uber. “The Elevate VTOL network will help improve urban mobility around the world and transform the way we travel.”