Uber Elevate in West Chester, Ohio: Getting ready for the future, because its on our doorstep–all we have to do is open the door

Sign me up, Uber doesn’t even have to sell me on it. I have been all about skycars for over two decades now and understand that this form of transportation was always the key to our future as human beings—everywhere in the world. It is time for that great technical leap and I am prepared to do whatever needs to be done to bring a skyport to my town of West Chester, Ohio. Let me provide a situational necessity for why Uber Elevate is needed not just in my home city of Cincinnati, but in every city. Here is a problem I run in to several times a year, I have business guests from out-of-town. At the conclusion of our business day they go back to their hotel, usually a few miles down the road in the heart of West Chester, Ohio. Before they leave, I offer to take them to a Reds game, which they almost always accept, especially in the Diamond seats for the full Mercedes-Benz sponsored luxury experience. The game starts at 7:10 PM, but to take advantage of the dinner option, we need to arrive an hour early. Our business day ended at 5:30 PM but the relatively short drive from West Chester to downtown Cincinnati just to the south takes an hour due to the traffic congestion. That doesn’t leave my guests any time to change cloths and get ready, and still have time to get to the game without missing something. What I need in those situations is to go to a Uber Skyport over by the Top Golf complex with my three guests and fly down to the stadium landing at the Uber Skyport at the Banks. From there we would simply walk into the stadium and enjoy our game without any delays or traffic anxiety. And a successful day of business would be concluded in the most optimal way possible. After the game I would dial-up a Uber Elevate vehicle from my phone app which would be waiting on us at the skyport pad to take us all home. The reality of that experience is about five years away with a realistic projection date of 2023.

I watched the Uber Elevate presentation that they did this past week with great enthusiasm. When I saw that NASA was affiliated with their project I was even more impressed, finally after many years there was a viable plan to take transportation into the air where it belonged with a viable business model. Most of the technical problems have been worked out ironically with the toy drones that we can all get at Target or Wal-Mart. But these drones are just bigger and can hold passengers. The variable speed engines to provide the lift and computer-controlled adjustments that had to be made to deal with wind shears and other weather anomalies were present and it was now time to finally have an intelligent discussion about personal transportation by way of sky transport.

The Uber Elevate concept would need to be in high population areas to work well and my town of West Chester is just the perfect location for one of the opening cities. Already Uber Elevate is set to start operations in 2023 in the Dallas area and in Los Angeles. But quickly they will spread to other cities once public trust can be built with the new technology. With most of the current skycar designs there really isn’t any way that the vehicles will fall out of the sky. There are too many propellers on them to allow a vehicle to fall, the resistance of the air passing through the blades would have a kind of paper airplane effect in case of irreparable power failure. But that is a worse case scenario. In so many ways the Uber Elevate vehicles would be many times safer than a conventional car because it has upward mobility to keep it out of the trajectory of other vehicles. Riding in a Uber Elevate vehicle would be very comfortable and not violent in any way. It would be smooth and transitional from takeoff to destination landing. It would be no scarier than riding an elevator in a sky scrapper and looking out the windows once at the top levels.

Like it or not this is where transportation is going—its where it must go. There will always be a need for cars and large trucks will always be in demand to deliver goods and services. But for personal transportation from city to city or even across a large metropolis, the Uber Elevate is the best option there is. Getting from one end of Manhattan to the other is best achieved by flying over everything, not with an expensive taxi ride stuck in traffic every block of that big city. With Uber Elevate you would just walk to a building near Central Park and take the elevator up to the top floor where a Uber Elevate Skyport would be located and grab a transport to the financial district with a short five-minute flight over blocks and blocks of traffic. There is no infrastructure investment either at the ground level or underneath the city, everything would be vertical, which is the whole purpose of cities.

Even though part of the Uber Elevate presentation makes the assumption that cities will continue to grow vertically, such as in Mexico City, I can say that I don’t think people will be moving into cities—cities tend to expand outward as the tax problems of urban development pushes away wealth into the suburbs. That means that for people who work in the cities but live out in the suburbs the highway system just can’t deal with all the commerce, which is why it takes in Cincinnati an hour to drive down I-75 a mere 12 miles during rush hour. Getting to a Cincinnati Reds game from where I live is very difficult and in West Chester that is where so much business is done these days in the Cincinnati area. It’s not done downtown because it’s too difficult to get in and out of the city. But with Uber Elevate, much of that problem is solved. I can think of at least one downtown Cincinnati parking garage near City Hall just south of the Convention Center that would make a perfect Uber Elevate Skyport—and it would do big business in that location.

That means what is left to do to make all this happen is we need to get some money people together for the initial investment and we need to solve the political problems and all the regulations that currently stand in the way of making such a thing happen. The prototypes are already there and will be ready for flight by 2020. That only gives us three years to build the skyports and work out the navigational routes—for instance in the example I provided, buying the land and building skyports in both West Chester, Ohio and on the Banks in Cincinnati. Eventually of course within the subsequent years there would be hubs of skyports all around the I-275 loop, just as there would be in every big city that could transport people in and out of their cities easily and to all points around their metropolitan areas. Once that network was established then there would be city to city travel, such as from Cincinnati to Indianapolis, or Chicago to Detroit, Los Angeles to Las Vegas and so on. That is the way of the future and I am happy that we are now on the doorstep to it. Now all we have to do is open the door. I’m ready—are you?

Rich Hoffman

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