India among five countries for Uber flying taxis; a drone may soon deliver your Uber Eats order


At the first Uber Elevate Asia Pacific Expo in Tokyo, Uber announced the launch of its ambitious Uber Air City to be launched in Japan, India, Australia, Brazil and France in the next five years.

It also announced its plans to experiment with drone delivery for its food delivery platform Uber Eats. 

At the event, it also demonstrated how potential Uber Air routes in Asia Pacific cities could benefit and complement, local transportation systems. Eric Allison, Head of Uber Aviation Programs, said at the event they are around to host the first ever Uber Elevate Asia Pacific Expo that showcases the future Uber Air. 

“Uber sees a compelling opportunity to bring the same benefits to its food-delivery business that urban aviation will bring to its ride-sharing business. By taking to the skies, Uber Eats will be able to offer faster, farther reaching, more affordable, and more reliable deliveries to more customers and restaurants across the world,” says an Uber spokesperson. 

It is a part of Uber’s Elevate programme, which is creating urban aerial ride-sharing, globally. Slated to kickoff in five years, Uber customers in launch cities will be able to push a button and get a flight on demand. 

The planned Uber Skyport

Why these five cities

To enable this, Uber has assembled a network of partners that include vehicle manufacturers, real estate developers, technology developers, among others. Dallas and Los Angeles were previously announced as the first two US launch cities, and at the second annual Uber Elevate Summit in May, Uber announced it was seeking an international city as a third partner. 

The reason for choosing the five cities are:

  1. Japan - Home to one of the world’s greatest public transit systems, technology, and automative industries. 
  2. India - Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai are amongst the most congested cities in the world. Bengaluru already has an operational heli-taxi service by the government from Electronic City to Bengaluru Airport. 
  3. Australia - The team is working closely with Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority in Sydney and Melbourne. 
  4. France - Uber is opening an Advance Technology Centre in Paris, where Uber was first started. 
  5. Brazil - Rio de Janeiro and the state of São Paulo, is home to Uber’s partner Embraer, are key ridesharing markets globally, and they also happen to be some of today’s most active helicopter markets, indicating clear demand for urban aerial ridesharing.

The Uber Elevate team is in discussion with stakeholders in the cities and will announce Uber Air International City in the next six months. 

Uber Elevate has established a criteria framework to select this third city, anchored around three priority principles: sizeable market, with a need for innovative transport solutions, and local commitment, where Uber can work with the government and enabling conditions. 

Aerial transport at the push of a button

“In pursuit of our first international launch market, where you will be able to push a button and get a flight, we are announcing a shortlist of five countries where Uber Air can immediately transform transportation and take our technology to new heights. We want to thank the attendees of the Expo who got a first peek at Uber Eats delivered by drones, potential future routes where Uber Air will fly people across cities in the Asia Pacific region, and many other ways Uber is creating a new future of truly multimodal transportation.”

Daisaku Hiraki, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said at the event, “We see much potential in flying cars, and we anticipate they can be used not only to help solve traffic congestion in urban areas, but also help with increased mobility between city centres and remote islands and mountainous areas, promote tourism in Japan as well as enhance disaster relief operations.” 

He added, “The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced on August 29 that "Investments for the Future Strategy 2018" will consist of launching a joint public-private sector conference to revolutionise the aviation mobility industry. I believe public and private sectors, including companies outside of Japan, should work collaboratively to develop this new technology. I am confident that Japan has the potential to become a leader in aviation innovation.”