“Uber is taking a big step forward toward making the world’s first VTOL network a reality and our partnership with Aurora Flight Sciences will help get us off the ground,” said Mark Moore, Director of Engineering for Uber. “The Elevate VTOL network will help improve urban mobility around the world and transform the way we travel.”
Aurora’s eVTOL concept is derived from its XV-24A X-plane program underway for the U.S. Department of Defense and other autonomous aircraft the company has developed over the years.Aurora has adapted and combined the autonomous flight guidance system from its Centaur optionally-piloted aircraft, the perception and collision avoidance system from the AACUS program, and the battery electric propulsion system from the XV-24A demonstrator to create the eVTOL design, according to company officials.
“The Uber Elevate mission is all about low noise, high reliability, and low cost,” said Aurora CEO John Langford. “By drawing on our nearly 30 years of successful autonomy and robotic programs, Aurora is well positioned to deliver on this urban solution. We have already built and flown the first proof-of-concept aircraft and we’re excited to partner with Uber in accelerating the eVTOL initiative.”
The partnership agreement provides the basis for a system of urban transportation solutions that will enable users of the Uber Elevate Network to request an Aurora eVTOL aircraft via Uber’s computer or mobile software applications.
With the first test flight of the aircraft on April 20, 2017, the goal of delivering 50 aircraft for testing by 2020 is well within reach, according to Aurora officials.
Uber also has partnered with Pipistrel to develop aircraft “to satisfy short distance urban operations as the basis for the VTOL performance specifications,” according to Pipistrel officials.
“Uber is excited to have Pipistrel working with us and starting to develop VTOLs for Uber Elevate,” said Moore. “Pipistrel is the only company in the world that builds and sells electric aircraft today. With a brand new factory to increase their capacity, they are a valued partner in making Uber’s VTOL network a reality.”
“I am proud and excited that Uber recognized our values, expertise and leadership in electric flight. This partnership marks the beginning of an exciting journey towards entirely new ways we travel, not only saving time, but also being friendly to the environment,” said Ivo Boscarol, Pipistrel CEO.