Another Uber Elevate has come and gone, hosted this year in our nation’s capital of Washington DC. Our team was in attendance for the second year running, soaking up all of the inspiration, energy, and creativity surrounding the “closer-than-you-think” future of urban air travel.
Much like last year, the excitement was palpable. Over the course of two days, Uber brought to the table many stunning new concepts, announced more partnerships, connected the dots of their growing multi-modal ecosystem, and reiterated milestones of Uber Air, all culminating in a 2023 pilot launch (a still audacious date, we might add) in their first test cities: Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne, Australia.
Teague has collected and distilled our main takeaways and learnings from this year's conference, with a particular focus on progress they’ve made in since 2018, and what hurdles Uber and their partners will still need to overcome before they can officially debut urban eVTOLs to the public.
Multi-modality Will Be at the Heart of Everything.
One topic we heard a lot about this year, perhaps even the largest theme of the conference, was Uber’s focus on multi-modality and the unifying, building upon, and data sharing enabled by their platform.
Launched just last week, Uber Copter, which will get users from Lower Manhattan to JFK in just eight minutes for a starting price of $200-$225, was actually born using lines of code from the already existing Uber Pool and Uber Eats services. Platforms that are built on top of existing Uber networks, like Uber Eats and Uber Copter, are allowing the company to compound and expand what they already know, giving insight into how transportation and data can be used to improve the customer experience, and ultimately, driving down the delivery times of both people and things.
Green, sustainable cities that are safer, more efficient, and that everyone, regardless of financial status, has access to in order to fuel their success are Uber’s ultimate goal
But data informing future Uber services isn’t the only multi-modal aspect that was touched on: The team took particular care in emphasizing how the upcoming Uber Air was just one aspect of ridesharing that their customers would need to adopt in order to make transportation in our cities truly sustainable and economical. New JUMP scooter and ebike technologies were revealed, along with the first Uber Eats drone delivery program, in partnership with the city of San Diego and McDonalds. Each Skyport concept unveiled featured solutions for seamless integration with all of Uber’s transportation services, making it easy to park your bike or scooter, be dropped off and picked up by your Uber driver, or access via public transit.
Green, sustainable cities that are safer, more efficient, and that everyone, regardless of financial status, has access to in order to fuel their success are Uber’s ultimate goal, sums up Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in the event’s closing keynote speech. And while we’re on our way with more multi-modal transportation and ridesharing options than ever, we need to evolve even further to make this future a reality.
“If you take a look at the development of cities around the world,” Khosrowshahi states, “what you see is that as they densify, you move into a mode where residential living and commercial work move up into the third dimension. When this happens, you have a transportation grid that cannot keep up in two dimensions.
“We think the solution is simple: We want to take the transportation grid into the third dimension. And we think that all of the technology you’ve seen demonstrated here is going to make this possible sooner rather than later.”