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Uber concedes that helicopters are the real flying cars, for now

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07.06.2019

As a massively valued tech company, Uber has to sell investors on grand visions for its future. Nothing in the company’s portfolio is grander than flying cars–electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) craft that hover and glide quietly and cleanly between futuristic skyports, summoned by an app. And of course, the robotic craft will fly themselves.

That may happen some day–5, 10, or more years from now. The technologies are in development by dozens of companies–many allied with Uber through its Elevate program, which holds its third national conference next week, in Washington, D.C.

But as Uber and its partners gather to talk about the future, the company has conceded that flying cars are already here. They’re called helicopters.

On Wednesday, Uber announced, via a New York Times article, its plans for Uber Copter–a helicopter shuttle service between lower Manhattan and JFK airport in New York City. Launching on July 9, it will ferry Uber’s top-tier Platinum and Diamond members on shared rides for $200 to $225–depending on demand pricing–on big birds with two gas engines and two pilots, operated by a provider called Heliflite.

Uber says it will expand the service to less elite customers soon. And given Uber’s general global-domination modus operandi, it’s plausible that Uber Copter will come to extend well beyond the JFK shuttles.

Uber Copter’s flight-hailing app. [Image: courtesy of Uber]Far from a service of the future, Uber Copter replicates, on a smaller scale, the model of a five-year-old transport company called Blade. Like Uber Copter, Blade contracts with third-party helicopter providers (not including Heliflite) to transport customers between Manhattan and JFK airport. Blade also serves Newark and........

© Fast Company