Ride-sharing company Uber has set some very ambitious goals – it aims to set up a network of flying taxis in Dallas, Texas and in Dubai by 2020, according to Uber’s chief product officer Jeff Holden, as reported by Reuters.

Uber’s flying taxis will be small electric aircraft with VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) capabilities, produce zero emissions and be quiet enough to operate in cities, the company says. Freed from the constraints of road networks, travelling by flying taxi could significantly reduce travel time, for example, from two hours between the San Francisco Marina and San Jose to 15 minutes, the company says.

To that end, Uber has hired former NASA engineer Mark Moore for expertise in developing the flying cars, according to a Bloomberg report. Uber also thinks that it can bring the cost to the passenger down to US$1.32 (RM5.73) per passenger mile, with the aim of making it ‘economically irrational’ to drive a car on the ground, Holden said at the Uber Elevate summit.

Uber is working with Hillwood Properties for the construction of four vertiports – VTOL hubs with multiple take-off and landing pads – with charging infrastructure. Theses will be located in Dallas, and commencement work has been mooted for next year, says Holden. The ride-sharing company is also partnering with aeronautics companies including Bell Helicopter, Aurora, Pipistrel, Mooney and Embraer for the production of flying taxis.

A partnership with US electric vehicle charging station manufacturer Chargepoint has also been formed, and Uber is working with the EV charger manufacturer for the development of an exclusive charger network for its flying taxis. Meanwhile, Uber’s partnership with the Dubai government has the aim of conducting passenger flights in its vehicles as part of the World Expo 2020 in Dubai.

On the manufacturer front, we reported earlier that Toyota filed a patent in 2014 for a shapeshifting flying car, while aircraft manufacturer Airbus has also been working on Project Vahana, “an autonomous flying vehicle platform for individual passenger and cargo transport,” according to the aeronautics company headquartered in France.