Uber has selected Aurora Flight Sciences as a partner to develop electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for its Uber Elevate Network. Aurora’s eVTOL concept is derived from its XV-24A X-plane program currently underway for the U.S. Department of Defense and other autonomous aircraft the company has developed over the years.
Aurora’s eVTOL aircraft will provide on-demand transportation to minimize long commutes due to heavy traffic and urbanization in populated areas. The infrastructure plan includes urban “vertiports” for passenger boarding and vehicle servicing. eVTOL aircraft will operate a “hub-to-hub” service between designated vertiports.
The first test bed flights are scheduled to begin in 2020 in Dallas, Texas, USA and Dubai, The United Arab Emirates.
The eVTOL will be used for short-haul transport of passengers or cargo. Current configuration allows for two passengers including the pilot plus luggage. Offerings will include specific configuration options to address mission requirements for civil and military operations. While initially operated with a safety pilot, the eVTOL aircraft is designed for fully autonomous operations.
The eVTOL aircraft includes eight lift rotors for vertical takeoff and cruise propeller and wing to transition to high-speed forward cruise. The flight capability for eVTOL aircraft is three times more efficient than a multi-copter aircraft.