Uber’s vision of a flying cab system is a glimpse of the future … one that real estate agents need to keep a close watch on. Not only could it impact how you do business, it also could impact the needs and desires of your clients.
Uber recently shared with Fast Company plans for Elevate, its program for urban air travel. The proposal includes plans to test the technology in Dallas and Dubai. Vehicles capable of vertical takeoffs and landings will be deployed and could include choppers, quad copters or something that we don’t even know about today.
They also have to be quiet enough to land in residential and business areas. Jeff Holden, Uber’s chief product officer, told Fast Company that last issue could be a challenge in the U.S., but it could be easier to get off the ground in Dubai.
“It’s a monarchy, so they have the ability to move very quickly with things that they get behind strategically. The certification of machinery and the approach to getting the aircraft through could be a much faster path [than in the U.S.].”
The program ultimately could have an impact on real estate. Properties with easy access to Uber landing pads might see an increase in value. It also could change the way we commute to and from work. Dallas Mayor Michael S. Rawlings is excited by the prospects.
“Every part of this marketplace, we’re seeing tremendous growth. So it’s going to need innovative transportation answers. We have a history of aviation. We have American Airlines, Southwest, Bell Helicopter, so many.”
Uber officials envision Elevate as an inexpensive alternative to increasing spending on new roads and expanding public transit. However, Rawlings told Fast Company that he isn’t ready to put his eggs in one basket. He wants his city to be “multi-modal.”
“Anytime there’s innovation in the marketplace, I don’t think anybody truly knows the results of these things, or the costs. We’ve got to be multimodal — there’s no question — in this city.”
An obvious hurdle will be locating sites to take off and land. Prime locations could become hot commodities in the business real estate landscape. Yolanka Wulff, executive director of the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency Foundation, said that presents a challenge to the proposal.
“To make [an air taxi business] happen is going to require infrastructure, because it doesn’t make sense to take a 15-minute flight if you have to drive a half hour out of town to get to the nearest airport.”
The current plan is an Uber taxi with room for four passengers and a pilot. The company wants to make using its services, whether on the road or in the air, cheaper than car ownership. Rawlings still remains cautiously optimistic for the future.
“This is kind of a vision right now. It’s hard for me to really commit exactly to what the benefits to everybody are, and to whom it’s a benefit. I’ll reserve the final pitch [to voters] until I understand it a little bit better.”