Uber officials to brief Suresh Prabhu on intra-city air taxi service plan
Uber named Dallas and Los Angeles as the first two cities for commercial launch of its aerial taxi by 2023
New Delhi: Senior officials of ride hailing service Uber Technologies Inc. will meet trade and civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday to make a formal presentation about Uber’s plan to start intra-city aerial taxi service in India to facilitate urban mobility and reduce road congestion.
Eric Allison, Global CEO at Uber Aviation Programs and Nikhil Goel, head of product of aviation at Uber who are in Delhi to attend India’s first Global Mobility Summit organized by the NITI Aayog will discuss the proposal with Prabhu, a senior government official said under condition of anonymity.
“The Uber officials are also likely to communicate their view on the government’s recently announced drone policy,” the official added.
An Uber spokesperson did not respond to calls and messages.
While Uber is keen to deliver food to households using drones through its Uber Eats business, the newly announced drone policy of India does not allow use of drones for out-of-sight operations.
However, junior aviation minister Jayant Sinha will be heading a committee to regulate out-of-sight drone operations under the second-generation licensing policy for drones.
Uber under its Uber Elevate programme has named Dallas and Los Angeles in the US as the first two cities for the commercial launch of its aerial taxi service by 2023 and has been on the lookout to select another international city as its third partner.
Uber has shortlisted five countries—India, Japan, Australia, Brazil and France—and one of them will become the first Uber Air City outside of the US.
Speaking at the India Ideas Summit organised by the US-India Business Council in Mumbai on Wednesday, Allison said the 100-minute road journey from the city airport in the western suburbs to downtown Churchgate in South Mumbai can come down to 10 minutes using the futuristic service.
It also hopes to bring down the current 90-plus minute stop and go commute from Gurugram to Central Delhi to a mere six minutes.
Uber is planning to use a network of small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically (called VTOL aircraft for Vertical Take-off and Landing), to enable rapid, reliable transportation between suburbs and cities and, ultimately, within cities.
“It has been proposed that the repurposed tops of parking garages, existing helipads, and even unused land surrounding highway interchanges could form the basis of an extensive, distributed network of ‘vertiports’,” Uber said in a white paper on the topic.
For starting India operations, Uber will need certification from the regulatory body Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
“VTOL aircraft are new from a certification standpoint, and progress with certification of new aircraft concepts has historically been very slow, though the process is changing in a way that could accelerate things significantly,” Uber said.
“We expect that daily long-distance commutes in heavily congested urban and suburban areas and routes under-served by existing infrastructure will be the first use cases for urban VTOLs,” the white paper added.
To showcase innovation and build a platform to shape the future of mobility, NITI Aayog is organising the two-day Move Summit on Friday and Saturday where stakeholders from across the sectors of mobility and transportation will gather to co-create a public interest framework to revolutionize transport.
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