Uber selects Melbourne for flying taxi tests

Ride-hailing firm chooses the second-largest Australian city to internationally test its pilotless aircraft ahead of 2023 commercial rollout

13Jun

Uber has revealed it will be using Melbourne as the first site outside the US for the company's planned flying taxi service.

The ride-hailing giant plans to begin test flights of the pilotless aircraft in 2020, with commercial operations set to begin in 2023. It will also be conducting tests in US cities Dallas and Los Angeles.

Uber chose Australia's second-largest city after it abandoned plans to use Dubai as the test base after launch delays. The test flights will transport passengers from one of the seven Westfield shopping centers in the area to the city's main international airport. This journey is 19km by car and takes 25 minutes, but with the flying taxi it is expected to take around 10 minutes.

"Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology," Susan Anderson, regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia, remarked.

"This, coupled with Melbourne's unique demographic and geospatial factors and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the perfect third launch city for UberAir," she added.

It is the second time in as many weeks that Uber has revealed plans to become airborne as it fights to become profitable. Last week, the company announced it would be introducing a new helicopter service, the "Uber Copter", in New York City on July 9

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