Flying Vehicles in Texas By 2020?
Earlier this week, Uber announced that Dallas and Fort Worth will serve as two of the first cities for their new on-demand flying vehicle. Labeled as the “Uber Elevate Network,” this innovation could come to the Lone Star State in less than 36 months — the company says that demo versions of the new service might begin as early as 2020.
This announcement was part of the April 25–27 “Uber Elevate Summit,” which also occurred in Dallas. Speakers at this three day event have included Rex J. Alexander (HeliExperts), Ashish Bagai (DARPA / TTO), Jeremy Gottshall (US Army), Gene Kim (Southwest Airlines), Parimal Kopardekar (NASA), John Langford (Aurora Flight Sciences), Earl Lawrence (Federal Aviation Administration), Matt Mead (Governor of Wyoming), Ross Perot, Jr (The Perot Group), Mike Rawlings (Mayor of Dallas), Arne Stoschek (Airbus A3), Michael Thacker (Bell Helicopter), Steven Udvar-Hazy (Aviation Capital Group) and numerous others.
Picking Texas as the location for this summit and as the test-bed for this new venture seems like a smart move. We are the home of big hats and even bigger dreams, the birthplace of audacious and over-the-top thinking. A commuter-focused transportation system that is not bound by the limits of gravity makes the promise of self-driving cars seem antiquated.
But for all its adventurous spirit, Lone Star road-focused bureaucracies and politics have done few favors for next-generation transportation systems. Given the many unsuccessful attempts to create a high-speed rail network between the state’s largest cities, its hard to believe that something as ambitious as flying vehicles will get off the ground in a timely fashion.
One must also point out that this week’s Uber announcement follows the playbook of one Donald J Trump to a T. When the dialogue about your brand is unfavorable, simply offer a sexy distraction that will help re-shape the narrative. It works well for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and it seems to also work well for Silicon Valley.
Hugh Forrest tries to write four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts generally cover technology-related trends. When not attempting to wordsmith or meditating, he serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW in Austin.