Flying cars are coming, so says Uber. The troubled ride-hailing giant has been pushing the wild goal of testing an electric air-taxi program in at least two American cities in 2020, with regular service starting in 2023. Yet only now are we getting our first glimpse of what the vertical-takeoff-and-landing planes might look like.
Earlier today, Uber debuted its combo helicopter-airplane reference design for contractors building the craft. Now Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer is the first to show its concept for a final craft. (Uber is opening its network to multiple providers, with five currently signed on.)
Following Uber’s guidance, the craft has high-mounted wings fitted with multiple small helicopter-like rotors (eight, in this case). They allow the craft to ascend and descend from tight locations like rooftops. At higher altitudes (1,000-2,000 feet) a propeller in the back of the craft takes over, allowing it to fly like an airplane—which is faster and more energy efficient than staying in helicopter mode.
Like all concept cars, the design that Embraer debuted today may look different once it hits the air. But with just a few years to get going, Embraer probably won’t have time to change much.