Flying Uber taxi wows the Dubai crowds at Gitex

The seven-tonne craft will be able to hit speeds of 290 kilometres per hour, offering passengers a hi-tech solution to beating the traffic

A full-scale model of the first Uber air taxi was unveiled at Gitex Technology Week in Dubai.

Visitors were given a sneak peek at the seven-tonne Hyundai Uber, which will be able to carry up to four passengers and one pilot once fully operational.

It was only the second time the full-scale aircraft concept was shown to the public.

Measuring 9.4 metres in length and with a 14m wingspan, commercial roll-out of the traffic-busting fleet is expected by 2028.

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5G enables high speed connection, broader bandwidth, low latency, which is important for the real time decisions of autonomous driving

Hyundai is the first automotive company to join the Uber Elevate initiative, which was launched in 2015 to develop aerial ridesharing at scale.

"The Hyundai Uber is here on show at Gitex with the intention of Etisalat powering it with a 5G network, which is important for this type of autonomous urban transportation," Murat Eldem, director at Etisalat, told The National.

“5G enables high-speed connection, broader bandwidth, low latency, which is important for the real-time decisions of autonomous driving.

"That’s why you will always find the 5G association with autonomous driving."

The Uber Elevate team is working to transform the world through aerial ridesharing to help reduce passenger commute times and relieve congested ground transport.

The vehicle itself can fly 100km on a five-minute battery charge and travel at up to 290kph.

Once operational, passengers can book a ride just as they would an on-ground Uber by setting their pickup and drop-off location before boarding the air taxi.

The model is designed to take off vertically, transition to wing-borne lift in cruise, and then transition back to vertical flight to land.

The Hyundai Uber will be piloted initially, but over time will become autonomous.

Fitted with numerous sensors, cameras and a GPS system, the vehicle will be able to map the flight management based on weather conditions before switching into autopilot mode.

The aircraft will use electric propulsion to power several smaller rotors and propellers around the airframe during the flight.

The size of the rotors will help to reduce noise levels relative to large rotor helicopters with combustion engines, which is very important to cities when it comes to better future mobility options.

Mr Eldem said the large-scale model on show at Gitex was expected to hit the commercial market in 2028, but smaller Uber aerial vehicles could be released in the US and Australia as early as 2023.

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