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Uber could cut down travel time by 90% in Mumbai

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on September 05, 2018 Published on September 05, 2018

File Photo - Uber Taxi   -  THE HINDU

Flying over the skyscrappers of the India's commercial capital could soon be as easy as calling a cab if Uber's plans for Mumbai come to fruition.

Uber, which has been testing Air taxi services using electric helicopters also referred to as VTOL or vertical take-off and landing vehicles, is working on how it can decongest Mumbai traffic with the help of air taxis.

On Wednesday, Eric Allison, global CEO at Uber Aviation Programs, showcased a route from Mumbai international airport to Churchgate railway station in south Mumbai. "The route takes about 100 minutes by car and we can do it 10 minutes with Uber (Elevate)," Allison announced.

While Uber has not officially announced plans to launch its air taxi services in India, the company has been in talks with officials here.

“We are talking with a lot of governments across the world. India makes a lot of sense, particularly in densely populated areas. We would love to work with the government,” Mark Moore, Engineering Director of Aviation at Uber, told BusinessLine in an interview earlier .

According to Uber, the new type of vehicles that'll be used to ferry passengers from rooftops of buildings, will bring down the cost of flying at par with Uber road taxi prices.

"This is the type of urban mobility game changer that this kind of solution brings. We think that once we are able to do it at scale as we are able to drive fully into it with the cost that these VTOL vehicles produce, we can do it at a cost comparable to our Uber X cost per passenger mile basis," Allison said.

Allison would be meeting government officials in New Delhi on Thursday to discuss this further.

The vehicles that Uber plans to use for its air taxi services, would fly at a lower altitude, keeping the airspace free of congestion while at the same time limiting the noise levels that urban residents are most concerned about.

The focus of developing these aircraft is centred around electric flying cars to begin with, which would go completely autonomous over the years, making them even cheaper to fly. But having enough battery power for an aircraft to fly is one of the biggest challenges currently.

Uber however expects that within 3-5 years, we would have sufficiently powered batteries to be doing 90-100 km ranges. And with new chargers, these flying cars could be charged from 30 per cent of battery capacity to 80 per cent within five minutes, so that companies like Uber could keep doing these missions very quickly — just five minutes of stop and then the next flight.

Published on September 05, 2018
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