As well as announcing their latest flying taxi prototype during its two-day Elevate conference last week, Uber also unveiled some renderings for their planned ‘Skyports’. These landing sites will be used as pick-up and drop-off points when UberAIR gets the go-ahead, and Uber has unveiled the six prototype design for the ‘Skyports’.
All going to plan UberAIR is due to begin test launches by 2020 in Los Angeles, followed by launches in Dallas, Fort Worth and Frisco. The goal is to create a flying taxi service with the infrastructure based on various ‘Skyports’ dotted around cities. Each of these landing sites will be equipped to handle around 4,000 passengers every hour.
As such, Uber have unveiled designs by six architects and engineers giving us a glimpse into what the future of our cities could resemble. Though firmly in the concept stage, Uber did choose the six designs for their “high degree of realism and technical feasibility,” with ports intended for popular city locations, where crowds are likely to gather. Take a look at the designs below…
‘The Paw’ by Gannett Fleming
‘The Paw’ by American engineering firm Gannett Fleming’s features an elevated platform with a series of circular landing pads. In order to make the service as efficient as possible, taxis would be rotated 180 degrees by a robot to make them ready for take-off. The structure would be built with ‘transparent concrete’ too for maximum light exposure.
‘Connect’ by Corgan
Comprising of irregularly shaped pods which can be stacked on top of one another, Connect by US architecture and design firm Corgan similarly utilises a modular design. The modules would host three layers with a flight deck on top, a station in the middle, and a public plaza at the base.
‘Sky Tower’ by Pickard Chilton
Developed by Connecticut architecture studio Pickard Chilton, the ‘Sky Tower’ is perhaps our favourite Skyport of the lot. Designed in conjunction with engineering firm Arup, the modular design will be able to host 180 landings and take-offs per hour. It can also be adapted easily depending on the location.
‘Uber Skysport’ by BOCKPowell
BOCKPowell has imagined arguably the most ambitious design. The white, tiered structure features staggered circular landing stations, with the US architecture firm referencing the “dynamics of flight”, adding they wanted “to explore how Skyports could reconnect the community, how they can become an important amenity to the neighbourhood.”
‘Uber Hover’ by Humphreys & Partners
Uber Hover by architecture firm Humphreys & Partners, as you can tell from the images, is modelled on a beehive and is the most divisive presented so far. The white rounded structure is punctured with openings for cars to fly into, like bees into a hive, and features greenery all over the port.
‘The Hive’ by The Beck Group
Finally, ‘The Hive’ by architecture and construction company The Beck Group also took cues from bees with hexagonal landing ports characterising its fairly understated concept. The shape is flexible and scalable to accommodate 150 take-offs and landings per hour and can be scaled to up to 1,000 trips per hour.
Uber are hoping that its flying taxis will not be exclusively for the rich and famous, and are suggesting there’ll be thousands in use by 2023. Much of this will come down to cost. At present, however, UberAir is expected to start around £4.23 per passenger per mile. But Uber does aim to bring that down to 32p to stay competitive with car ownership.
While it’s still in the concept phase, it does seem like the pieces are falling into place for UberAir. Uber has even signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to create a brand-new air traffic control system to manage these low-flying, autonomous aircraft. Head over to the Uber Website to find out more.