BY GRAHAM WARWICK / AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY
How do you create a new form of aviation? By collaborating, Uber contends. To realize its Elevate vision of urban air transport, the ride-hailing giant has assembled a phalanx of partners across the entire ecosystem from vehicles to vertiports.
Uber is also investing in internal teams to tackle what it sees as key gaps in industry’s ability to build ride-sharing networks of electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) air taxis within cities, including noise, batteries, airspace and infrastructure.
At its second Elevate Summit in Los Angeles on May 8-9, Uber is assembling the entire urban air mobility (UAM) ecosystem and unveiling models and tools it is developing to help industry design new classes of aircraft with which it has no experience.
“Manufacturers know how to produce aircraft, but none have developed an eVTOL for urban air mobility,” says Rob McDonald, Uber’s head of vehicle engineering. “We look for gaps in technology, tools and testing and spend money to fill those gaps and share the results with our partners.”
These tools are dedicated to the design of the partners’ vehicles, which cannot be shown, and the eCRMs are a way to showcase the results without giving away proprietary designs. This is part of Uber’s strategy to share information as widely as possible to advance the art of eVTOL design across industry.
Already, M4 Aerospace Engineering has applied Uber’s eCRMs to developing weight-prediction methods for some of the most unique features of eVTOLs. Georgia Tech has used these concepts to perform analyses to compare and contrast the safety of different concept approaches. Read more.