IF YOU TRUST the folks with their eyes tilted upward and their hands waving in the air, flying taxis could be a traffic panacea, leveraging the third dimension to make room for everyone. Uber is among the most fervent believers, and today the company revealed the vehicle it hopes will realize this congestion killer: the aspirationally—if not inspirationally—named Common Reference Model.
The concept is all-electric, and seats four people plus a pilot, in single file in a slim, cylindrical body with large windows. The design, reminiscent of a catamaran, features streamlined nacelles suspended high on each side, on slender supports. These are the battery pods. On top of each, and atop two smaller, even farther outboard pods, sit stacked rotors, which provide the electric vertical lift for takeoff and landing. At the very back, where the tail would be on a conventional plane, a propeller faces forwards, ready to power horizontal flight. There’s just one door, on one side, to simplify ground operations. No need for extra steps or worrying about people exiting on the wrong side into an active landing pad.