Global tech

Uber’s ditched its Melbourne flying taxi project

- December 9, 2020 2 MIN READ
An artist's impression of Uber Air's former Elevate project.
US rideshare company Uber has shed its flying taxi project less than six months after the company reaffirmed plans to launch Uber Air in Melbourne.

Joby Aviation, a Californian startup developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger aircraft it hopes to launch by 2023, has bought the Uber Elevate project off the rideshare business for an undisclosed sum, although Uber has agreed to tip another $75 million into the project through Joby.  Uber previously invested US$50 million into Joby’s Series C round in January 2020.

Under the terms of the deal, the two parent companies have agreed to integrate their respective services into each other’s apps, enabling seamless integration between ground and air travel for future customers.

The announcement came 24 hours after Uber revealed it was also offloading its self-driving unit, Advanced Technologies Group, to a US autonomous vehicle startup Aurora in a partnership deal that costs the startup no money, but sees Uber invest US$400 million in Aurora and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi join the Board.

Joby Aviation is developing an eVTOL aircraft for four passengers and a pilot with a 240km range and top speed of 320kmh. The company has now raised more than US$820 million in investment and has more than 500 staff, with offices across the US and in Germany.

In July this year, Uber Air reaffirmed its pilot program in Melbourne, as its first international expansion site with a 2023 goal in mind, but adding the impacts of Covid-19 had effected timelines. The company was working with eight partners to develop the project.

Where that leaves the Melbourne program is unclear.

Startup Daily has contacted Joby Aviation and Uber for comment. Uber referred us to Joby for a response.

A spokesperson for Joby said: “As far as Melbourne is concerned, we’re excited to maintain the dialogue that was established under the Uber Elevate platform as we integrate that team’s perspectives into our own go-to-market strategy.”


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