Uber, for lack of a better description, the freelance livery and taxi service, has been researching vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology in order to jockey its customers around via self-flying drone taxis. The company claims drone riders will beat city street traffic and drastically reduce commute times by taking off this way.
Essentially, VTOL is relating to an aircraft that can hover, take of, and land vertically just like a helicopter. Instead of two propellers – one on top and one in the helicopter tail – VTOL crafts have multiple rotors, possibly wings, and would require batteries for operation. Naturally, operation, like future cars would be autonomous.
Both plans and research are in the very early stages and certain obstacles must be addressed. For example, a single-passenger drone has a battery life of 23 minutes. On the safety-confidence scale, 23 minutes is not much, even if the average ride lasts five to 10 minutes.
Is this a good idea? When you consider that the taxi company doing the research has a record of both angry/violent customers and drivers, it might be a good thing. Eliminating the driver cuts the odds of angry/violence by 50%. However, if the odds tilt in favor of the other 50%, how will the drone deal with a troublesome rider at 40 or 50 feet above ground? One solution, BYOP (bring your own parachute). ~MD
If you’re still interested, read more at http://www.recode.net/2016/9/25/13048094/uber-vertical-takeoff-aircraft-jeff-holden