Tomorrow’s Transport: Pie in the Sky?

Ride-sharing giant Uber made headlines in June when it unveiled renderings of skyports in major cities around the world as part of its plan to develop the “world’s first aerial rideshare network.”

A group of high-level architects, including Gensler, SHoP, and Pickard Chilton, presented their visions for facilities that would help travelers whiz around cities in eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft). Related Companies was announced as the “preferred development partner” for the enterprise, dubbed Uber Air, and showed off drawings for a prototype skyport, designed by Foster + Partners, in its 240-acre (97 ha) project in Santa Clara, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Throughout the industry, executives, planners, and designers were suddenly faced with a very real question: should we be preparing for an “aerial rideshare network”? Uber says it expects to hold flight demonstrations in Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth in 2020, with plans to make the system commercially available in 2023. But who knows if it will happen—or if consumers will embrace the idea of flying Uber?