The Future of Urban Ride-Hailing Arrives in New Flying Vehicle Concept

Jun 13, 2019

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Embraer is commonly associated with regional jets operated by carriers like American, Delta and United, but its EmbraerX arm has unveiled a new flying vehicle concept. It’s a far cry from the planes we typically see on short-haul flights between locales like DC and New York, but it stands to reason that legacy airlines may diversify their business by eventually putting birds like these in their fleet.

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The aircraft concept was unveiled at the third annual Uber Elevate conference in Washington, DC. The standout feature would be its electric vertical take-off and landing capability, known as eVTOL, which would enable it to easily (and quietly) land, pick up new passengers and depart in remarkably tight spaces.

EmbraerX unveiled a new electric flying vehicle concept during Uber Elevate Summit 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brandan Dorsey/The Points Guy)

Per a company release, the unnamed craft is aiming for “operational optimization for the urban environment, considering high reliability, low operating costs, a lower noise footprint, fully electric powered and progressively autonomous.” Said another way, this machine would be better for the environment and could one day pilot itself.

EmbraerX flying vehicle concept
(Photo courtesy of EmbraerX)

While it’s just a concept at the moment, it’s not as far-fetched as it may seem at first blush. BLADE already enables consumers to hail a helicopter with an app, and ride-hailing firm Uber isn’t being coy about its intentions to include aircraft in its future vehicle selections. EmbraerX flying vehicle concept(Photo courtesy of EmbraerX)

Even if the likes of Uber and Lyft pass on utilizing urban aircraft, EmbraerX says it is developing a new business platform (dubbed Beacon) to “foster collaboration and synchronize aviation services companies and professionals in a streamlined and more agile way, to keep aircraft flying.” The company is also working with dozens of air traffic controllers, academics, pilots and industry experts to propose an “urban air space design to allow more aircraft to fly in urban environments.”

Hopefully, it’s only a matter of time before we’re able to use monthly Uber credits on The Platinum Card® from American Express (or points and miles from other programs) to catch a quick aerial lift in the city.

Featured image and additional reporting by Brendan Dorsey/The Points Guy.

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