Uber expects flying taxis to soon become a commercial reality and believes such solutions will eventually transform into an affordable transportation method, Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said earlier today. While speaking at an investor forum in Tokyo, the 48-year-old reiterated his expectations regarding the company's flying car project, saying it expects it to be commercialized within five to ten years. The executive of what's still believed to be the world's most valuable startup didn't elaborate on the matter, though some industry watchers previously labeled his predictions for the flying taxi industry as highly optimistic.
Uber is presently pursuing a much more realistic goal in the form of self-driving vehicles yet that technology also isn't expected to enjoy large-scale adoption in the near future due to numerous regulatory roadblocks and public concerns, even though the Silicon Valley may be able to safely automate driving early on in the next decade. The San Francisco, California-based company spoke of flying taxis for several years now, having first hinted at being interested in the segment under the leadership of former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick, though the scope of the project pursued by its Advanced Technologies Group remains unclear. At least a small number of its engineers are understood to be developing flying taxi technologies in partnership with NASA, as per reports from last fall. Uber's first flying vehicle prototype that's presently being designed will supposedly be able to carry four passengers and achieve speeds of up to 200mph (322kmph). The company is said to be planning a Los Angeles-based test in the near future but will initially experiment with the flying taxi at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
The ride-hailing service provider sees innovative transportation solutions like self-driving technology and flying vehicles as its endgame meant to make it highly profitable in the long-term by allowing it to cut down on its operating costs while simultaneously not (significantly) increasing the prices presented to consumers. Uber's core business may start making money as early as 2021, Mr. Khosrowshahi previously said. The company is presently targeting an initial public offering in 2019 at an unspecified valuation and isn't expected to raise more funding this year.