Uber Elevate's Official Real Estate Partner Dishes On Bringing Flying Cars To DFW By 2024
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Uber Elevate, Uber’s flying transit system, is slated to come to DFW in 2024, and Hillwood Properties is the official “Vertiport” development partner in North Texas.
Hillwood Properties President Mike Berry explained the partnership at Bisnow’s Big South Office Event.
“For real estate, how we plan, all of us plan, for ‘Vertiports’ in our projects, if you believe in it, whether it be on top of parking garages, on top of your building or on a pad site adjacent to your building, that is the role Hillwood is playing in this whole process,” Berry said.
These Vertiports, glorified helipads in Berry’s words, are docking bays for the VTOL (vertical takeoff and lift) aircraft Uber will use to transport customers through the air. According to Berry, these bays will consume a fair amount of space — a 16-VTOL Vertiport will take up 1.5 acres by his estimation — and will house extremely powerful charging units to power the electric VTOLs.
The VTOLs Uber intends to use already exist, and according to Berry, manufacturers are vying desperately to build them for Uber. The VTOL’s flight envelope will be somewhere between 500 feet and 1,000 feet, and they will carry four passengers. Berry said the service will work through a new option in the Uber app (Uber Elevate), and it will cost more — a trip from Downtown Fort Worth to Downtown Dallas (a little over 30 miles) at peak traffic time could cost $110. The projected commute time is 18 to 20 minutes (it can take about an hour to drive at peak and could cost $30 to $40). Berry said Uber believes the difference in price vs. time gained by flying over traffic instead of sitting in it will drive significant sales.
Barriers to the project include Federal Aviation Administration regulations lagging behind the technology, fine-tuning of the aircraft systems and safety features.
“After we go through a long testing period and writing basically a new set of rules, I think it is very viable you will see these aircraft traveling within the next seven years in the Dallas-Fort Worth market,” Berry said.
According to Berry the first Vertiports Hillwood will build will be at Frisco Station and DFW Airport, and testing will take place over six or seven years.
CORRECTION, DEC. 6, 10:15 A.M. CT: A previous version of this article stated that the Hillwood/Uber partnership was announced at Bisnow's event. The partnership was announced at the Uber Elevate Summit in April.