Flying Big Macs? Uber has big plans for the future
Ten years ago Uber didn't exist. Today, it's the defining force in moving from point A to point B.
The company regularly makes headlines talking about a new wierd and wonderful solution to the never-ending issue of transportation; in the past few months it has been scUber, then Uber Copter, and probably Uber Air after that. And now, it has revealed a new concept involving Uber Eats food delivery drones.
Last month, we sat down with Tino Waked, the General Manager for Uber in the Middle East and North Africa. He had more than a few interesting things to say about where transportation is going over the next decade here in Dubai.
"Today, we live in a three dimensional world," says Waked, "so here in Dubai we live in skyscrapers but when you look at how we move around, it's actually in two dimensions. So the way we move around has not changed much over the last 20, 30 or 40 years."
"The idea is to move from a 2D grid up to the air. You go from a very congested way of moving around on the streets, to have a different layers of transportation."
Uber’s vision is to have transportation utilise this “3D world”, which means adapting cities entirely. So in reality, it's about far more than robot taxis (although, they are in the pipeline).
Uber Air, for example, wants to create ‘Skyports’: helipads made for the Uber Air vehicles, also known as electronic Vertical Take-Off and Landing vehicles (eVTOL).
One of the 'Skyport' concepts
According to Waked, "Uber is working with a lot of governments, a lot of partners, and a lot of real estate partners to have them installed in a lot of areas." And what if the nearest skyport is miles away?
That's when Uber's network of logistics takes control.
"The way we see it," says Waked "is you leaving your house, and taking a bike to the metro. Then you get on the train to a skyport, and you get an Uber Air to another location."
"Once you start combining all these different modes of transport, things get really exciting".
By combining various transportation methods, all under the umbrella of Uber, the company hopes transport will be a lot smoother, and feature far less traffic. However, as anyone who's had to take a plane, train and automobile to get to a single location will say; sometimes travel can be a massive pain.
The role of Uber in the future will be to reduce that pain. "Imagine someone telling you that instead of taking 45 minutes to go to work every day, you could actually take 15 minutes. Using an Uber Boat or Uber Air, for example. It goes back to the idea of thinking non-traditionally about the 2-D grid" admits Waked.
"My aspirations is for the transportation landscape to look very different in Dubai over the next 10 years. You will start by waking up, opening up your Uber app and having a lot of different options to get around."
"Instead of it being in a car, I think you will have a lot of different modes: using an e-scooter, or a bike, or the metro, so combining some of these things and potentially utilizing driverless technology or Uber Air, you'll will give you a much more seamless experience a lot faster."
It’s not just about flying cars then, it’s about combining flying cars with a bunch of other futuristic methods to get you from A to B as fast as possible