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Uber Elevate and the future of flying cars in Collin County

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Commuters boarding an EVOTL. Image courtesy of an Uber Elevate video on YouTube

About a year ago, we published that Dallas would be the first U.S city to get flying cars. Well, that was not entirely accurate. According to Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere, Uber Elevate is bring flying cars to Collin County—Plano and/or Frisco—too.

Uber Elevate

Uber Elevate, also being referred to as UberAIR, will utilize EVTOLs—electronic vertical take-off and landing vehicles—to provide an alternative to traditional ground transportation. Once launched, Uber Elevate is expected to reduce congestion and pollution and provide commuters with a faster, safer and cheaper alternative to driving.

In a video released by Uber Elevate, Jeff Holden, Chief Product Officer at Uber, says, “Flying really can replace driving and can be done in a way that’s, ultimately, less expensive than car ownership as well as friendly to the environment and the community.

Read more: The future of downtown Plano

“The big win is in time,” he continues. “Trips that can take hours on the ground can take minutes in the air.”

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From DFW airport to Frisco. UberAIR vs. UberX. Image courtesy of an Uber Elevate video on YouTube

Uber Elevate in Collin County

The video uses a simple example to illustrate the potential time savings: Driving with UberX from DFW airport to Frisco takes approximately one hour and 10 minutes. Flying with UberAIR it would be just eight minutes.

It’s interesting to note that Uber chose to use an example of Frisco, not Dallas, to demonstrate this point.

Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere, on the other hand, chooses to refer to areas in Plano when speaking about Uber Elevate.

“What’s going to happen in five years, probably, is you’ll get off the plane at DFW airport and you’ll get in what’s essentially a drone and that’ll get you to the Legacy area in ten minutes,” says Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere. “And then that last leg of the journey might be an autonomous car taking you to Toyota for a business meeting.”

As we continue to talk, Mayor LaRosiliere also mentions the possibility that this tech may actually go to Frisco first. He laughs, “But close enough, right?”

Read more: Plano is an Amazon finalist

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A rendering of an EVOTL approaching a vertiport. Image courtesy of an Uber Elevate video on YouTube

While you may think that these flyings cars—EVOTLs—would be able to fly anywhere, that is not how they will work.

EVOTLs will have the capability to take-off and land only from vertiports—mini-airports which will be built in “hubs of activity” especially to accommodate them. Currently, vertiports are being envisioned built on top of other structures such as skyscrapers and parking lots.

This video should give you a better idea of how Uber Elevate’s EVOTLs and vertiports will work:

These vertiports are being developed by Ross Perot Jr.’s development company, Hillwood. Among Hillwood’s portfolio of projects is Frisco Station, a mixed-used development currently under construction and another reason why Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere believes the first vertiport in Collin County maybe in Frisco.

At North Texas Regional Leadership Day Legacy Business Park was mentioned as a potential veriport location. “The only one potential [veriport] I’ve ever heard off is the JC Penny parking lot. But they’re not an easy thing to put just anywhere,” said Peter Braster, Director of Special Projects for the City of Plano.

Other locations for potential DFW veriports include Arlington’s entertainment district and the American Airlines Center.

“In order for that type of tech to make sense, you have to have enough density and a grid,” explains Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere. “So, another good place for [a veriport] would be downtown Plano, but the natural place to start would be the Legacy business area. You need enough jobs and people to accommodate building out that infrastructure.”

Read more: A look at the campus and the culture at Toyota North America 

Regardless of where we see the launch of the first flying car, the DFW skyline will never be the same again.

Testing will launch in 2020.

Rebecca Silvestri
Executive Editor
Rebecca Silvestri is the executive editor at Plano Profile. She is also the wife of Philip Silvestri, Publisher of Plano Profile.

In a previous life, Rebecca was a math teacher (in London and the Dominican Republic).

Philip and Rebecca have a little boy named Theo and are expecting a baby girl this July.

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