A 2016 Uber Elevate paper described a network of small and electric aircraft that can take off and land vertically known as VTOL (vertical take-off and landing).
"We are delighted that Melbourne has been chosen as the first worldwide trial city for Uber Air".
To get these craft designed, built and approved by governmental agencies within its highly truncated time frame, Uber has partnered with several established aerospace companies, including Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, EmbraerX, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions and Bell.
"Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology", said Susan Anderson, regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia.
Victorian Government Assistant Treasurer Robin Scott said the Uber Air trial plays up the state's leadership in "transformative technologies".
The really wild part is that Uber plans on starting test flights as early as 2020 and hopes to have the program commercially viable and available to the public by 2023 - which, if you couldn't tell, is an incredibly short timeline.
As TechCrunch reports, Uber's head of Elevate, Eric Allison, gave a presentation Tuesday about how the company expects the economics of electric helicopter services should make it cheaper than owning a vehicle, and just as cheap as ordering an Uber X within a few years.
Uber expects the second-most popular route will be between Melbourne and Geelong, a 75km trip that takes over an hour by auto but would be cut to less than 20 minutes by air.
Uber Air shuttles could soon be a familiar sight in the skies above Melbourne.
The announcement was made at the company's Elevate summit in Washington after sealing the deal with Melbourne Airport and companies Macquarie Capital, Scentre Group and Telstra.
A concept for Uber's electric "flying taxi" project, due to launch in Melbourne in 2020.
Uber has proposed using auto park roofs - including those of shopping centres - and existing helipads to run the service. "The closest equivalent technology in use today is the helicopter", the company has previously observed.
This calculus has something to do with "autonomous scale manufacturing" of the helicopters, and increased use of them for heli-pooling.
"We are curious to understand the role our platform may be able to play in the delivery of Australia's future mobility options and how this could integrate with current ground transport which already includes ridesharing", Scentre chief strategy and business development officer Cynthia Whelan said.