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Uber Air

Over the last few decades, science-fiction has shown us intriguing glimpses of flying cars in megacities of hundreds of millions of inhabitants. But for a year now these flying vehicle concepts for the general public have been becoming increasingly concrete, with, among others, Uber’s flying taxi project, Uber Air.


At the last Websummit in Lisbon in November 2017, l’Echangeur attended the Uber conference, announcing the launch of the first tests for flying taxis in Los Angeles for 2020, with deployment slated for the 2028 Olympics. Flying taxis are closer to helicopters than cars, as they will have to take off from the roofs of buildings. According to the taxi companies, helicopter transport companies will have real cause to worry…

uber elevate program

In France, at the Tech for Good Summit, Uber announced the opening of a research centre for flying vehicles in Paris, in line with its Uber Elevate programme. Recently, Uber Air has returned to the media forefront, announcing that France could soon host its flying service, with tests planned for 2020, as will also be the case for Los Angeles or Dallas.

But Uber is not alone in planning a short-haul flying system at a price equivalent to that of a taxi ride. In Toulouse, the startup EVA has similar ambitions, but with a true flying car that can pick up passengers in the street, not just from the roofs of buildings as Uber Air requires.

EVA Toulouse

The flying car (VOTL) will be autonomous and completely electric. The first tests should take place in late 2018, with commercialisation in Asia in 2020. These flying vehicles, accessible to as many people as possible, come straight out of science fiction and may signal the end of traffic jams!

EVA Flying Car


Mobility is still rapidly changing, whether via Hyperloop, autonomous cars or the various flying taxi projects. This mobility will fundamentally impact the structure of cities, flows of people and thus commerce. Shopping centres will have to integrate these new modes of transport, potentially with landing and take-off spaces for flying taxis or large dedicated drop-off spaces for autonomous cars.

Commerce will be strongly impacted in the long term by these new modes of transport, as flows will be directed via the air and no longer on the roads, streets and avenues of our cities. It will therefore also be necessary to rethink local business, as are American startups such as Vendy or Cargo, who offer hired transport passengers the possibility of making purchases during their trips. The products are available directly in the vehicles and the driver gets a commission on each sale. For Jeff Crispe, the founder of Cargo, “the car becomes a place for entertainment and consumption, and this will accelerate with autonomous vehicles” whether on the road or in the air. It’s also in this direction that Amazon is multiplying agreements with car manufacturers to implement its assistant Alexa.

Eva in Malaysia

Does this new mobility mark the end of the famous “no parking no business“, which could become “no rooftop no business“?

A new way to conceiving shopping centres will surely emerge with the growth of this mobility, whether it’s on the roads or in the air!


As an expert in emerging technologies, Nicolas travels to innovation shows around the world to spot and analyse the new trends.
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