Meet UberAir and the Future of Urban Mobility

Do you remember the flying car that George Jetson used to fly to work? Well meet UberAir and the future of urban mobility. The future of urban mobility--like all fourth industrial revolution changes--is placing new demands on leaders, and requires smart, connected leadership.


UberAir or UberElevate is the mobility solutions provider’s answer to congested city commutes in cities like Dallas and Los Angeles. Starting in 2020, UberAir will begin flights in Dallas and Los Angeles as the first two launch cities. And Uber is currently seeking an international city as their third partner.

The goal is to operate demonstrator flights starting in 2020 and begin commercial operations in 2023. Why? Because commuting is no fun and is a waste of time. I can certainly relate to this, as I've recently added a 100 minutes of commuting to each day. UberAir will solve this productivity problem for those of us living in and around large metropolitan areas. And this isn't just a media stunt. This is definitely happening. 

According to Uber's FREE white paper on UberAir, "Last year, the average SanFrancisco resident spent 230 hours commuting between work and home." When you aggregate those numbers that's a half a million hours of productivity lost every single day! Uber claims that on-demand aviation solves this productivity, and stress-inducing commuting hassle. 

The Mobility Challenges Leaders MUST Get Right

 The future of urban mobility poses challenges. Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) technology is complicated. George Jetson and his boss Mr. Spacely never had to deal with this...they made "sprockets" for goodness sake! 

1. Our cities lack infrastructure for on-demand air travel. We have things like bridges, utility lines, and even trees that get in the way (yes, UberAir will take you to the suburbs).

Check out Uber's touching video below. Spoiler alert: Mom makes it home and doesn't crash the VTOL!

2. Infrastructure is costly. However, according to Uber, developing infrastructure to support an urban VTOL network will likely have significant cost advantages over heavy-infrastructure approaches such as roads, rail, bridges and tunnels. Sorry commercial 3-D printing, urban mobility relies on digital infrastructure, not brick and mortar. 

3. Um, safety. The US Federal AviationAdministration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)  regulate 50%and 30% of the world’s aviation activity, respectively. This is going to require serious collaboration between the public and private sector. 

4. Does this thing come with batteries? According to Uber, the specific energy of batteries today is insufficient for long-range commutes. The batteries are still too heavy. That’s right, these things are going to be battery powered.

5. Wanted: Pilots for hire. Drivers need not apply. Training to become a commercial pilot under FAR Part 135 is a very time-intensive proposition, requiring 500 hours of pilot-in-command experience for VFR and 1200 hours for IFR. As on-demand VTOL service scales, the need for pilots will rapidly increase. The lack of pilots will definitely slow down growth. Here's how Uber is planning to deal with that...self-flying VTOL pods. Not sure I'll be first in line for that cab ride, even though I love the self-driving Ubers in Pittsburgh today. 

UberAir shows us how the future of work and life are going to radically change in the fourth industrial revolution (4iR). UberAir also illustrates why Future-Ready Leadership is such an important topic of our times! Is your organization ready for these kinds of future challenges? 

UberAir will place new demands on collaboration between governments, industry, technology, and society. It also requires deep development for pilots and re-skilling workers to build smart-connected cities of the future. Finally, UberAir and the future of mobility raise a ton of ethical questions that will require discernment and decision-making that today's leaders aren't equipped to engage in. 

Collaboration, Development, and Discernment are three of the five demands of future-ready leadership that I tackle in my new book, which was just released. My book provide more than 50 tools, frameworks, assessments, and recommendations for successfully leading in the future of work and life. 

Download it on Kindle or buy it on amazon today because the future is now! 

And just for fun...I've included this classic. 

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Chris Groscurth, Ph.D.

Chris Groscurth, Ph.D., is author of Future-Ready Leadership: Strategies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. For the past 20 years he has worked as a researcher and strategic advisor to leaders across healthcare, finance, manufacturing, government and education. In addition to his consulting work, Chris addresses thousands of leaders annually through speaking engagements and workshops. Throughout his career, he has held leadership positions with Gallup, the University of Michigan, and Trinity Health. Chris currently leads Stryker's global learning design and development team, shaping the future of leadership in a high-growth medical technology company. Chris received his doctorate in human communication processes from the University of Georgia and has bachelor's and master's degrees in human communication studies from Western Michigan University.

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