Uber has shown off what it wants the insides of its flying taxis to look like for the first time. The company debuted a reference design for the vehicles it believes will eventually power a service called “Uber Air” at the third annual Elevate conference, which is all about flying taxi tech.
Many of the designs Uber has toyed with for its air taxi service resemble more advanced helicopters, so it’s unsurprising that the reference design revealed looks a lot like the inside of one (though not nearly as spartan). It also kind of looks like the inside of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.
There are four passenger seats, arranged two-by-two. Behind the second row is space for storing luggage. Aside from some electric blue lighting and similarly colored seat belts, that’s about it. There aren’t the same kinds of creature comforts you’d find on an airplane, but that’s likely by design since Uber is planning to only use these aircraft for short rides.
Designed in partnership with a company called Safran Cabin, Uber wants the simple but sleek interior design to “become a widely accepted standard for eVTOL [electric vertical take-off and landing] vehicle rider experience.” As such, Uber says the interior it designed with Safran Cabin can be modified to fit the specifications of eVTOL vehicles that other companies are building for Uber Air, like the ones from Boeing and Bell Helicopters. (Uber also announced another manufacturing partner, Jaunt, on Tuesday.)
Flying taxis are just one of the many things Uber is working on in its quest to become the ultimate transportation company, or as CEO Dara Khosrowshahi recently put it, the “one-stop shop for the movement of people and powering local commerce around the world.” It’s one of the more seemingly far-fetched parts of that plan, but Uber has spent the last few years building up momentum to take a real shot at the idea. Beyond getting companies like Boeing on board to build and test real aircraft, Uber has also shown off a number of “skyport” concepts and poached some serious talent.
Uber wants to perform its own test flights in 2020, and it plans to launch some version of an air taxi service in 2023, starting in Dallas, Texas, and Los Angeles, California. The company also recently announced that it will offer helicopter rides in New York from lower Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport.