Uber this week began a global search for a city to launch its planned on-demand flying taxi service, called uberAIR, which it hopes will begin commercial operations by 2023.
In the U.S., the ride-sharing company already has plans to introduce the service in Dallas and Los Angeles, but it's now soliciting pitches from international cities to become uberAIR's third launch location.
Although there isn’t an official word yet, the move by Uber could serve as a potential setback for Dubai, which was previously mentioned as a proposed market for such a service.
Last year, during Uber’s annual Elevate Summit, the company’s Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden announced a partnership with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority to conduct studies related to introducing flying taxis in the city. He also said the company hoped to conduct passenger flights during the Expo 2020 in Dubai.
“[Dubai is] really the first city in the world to embrace the concept of urban aviation,” said Holden during his speech, noting at the time that Dubai’s urban layout was well-suited for an aerial ride-hailing service.
He also mentioned that Uber was collaborating with some of Dubai’s “premier real estate developers” as part of efforts to establish infrastructure for a flying taxi service, but said the company wasn’t yet ready to make any formal announcements.
Now, Uber’s website makes no mention of Dubai in its call for an international city to host uberAIR. Still, the opportunity is open to any city outside the U.S., and the company says it will consider locations with a metropolitan population greater than 2 million people that has dispersed population hubs, an airport at least an hour away from the city center and an appetite to back ride-sharing services.
“We are seeking cities where national and local policymakers are committed to enabling the adoption of new transportation technologies,” reads Uber’s call. Interested governments should contact Uber by July 1, 2018, according to the company’s website.