Uber dreams of revolutionizing the way humans travel, and a big part of that plan includes autonomous aerial drones. However, for the time being, it's dipping its toes in the space with the Uber Copter.
The new service will launch in New York City on July 9 and provide rides from lower Manhattan to Kennedy International Airport, The New York Times reported last Wednesday. The flight should last roughly eight minutes, which is far shorter than any other sort of local transportation method to make the same trip. Uber said a car ride can take up to two hours in rush-hour traffic, and the subway or railroad connection can take 50-75 minutes. Combined, with ground transportation from the landing zone, Uber Copter promises a trip time of about 30 minutes total, including private ground transportation on both ends of the trip. The trips will originate at a helipad near the Staten Island Ferry.
There are a few catches as the service rolls out, however. Uber Copter will only be available to Uber users who belong to the Platinum or Diamond rewards tiers—the users who use Uber most often. These customers can book a helicopter ride on-demand or up to five days in advance. An email will be sent confirming the trip and include boarding passes.
The maximum number of passengers is five and each person can bring one carry-on bag and one piece of luggage that weighs no more than 40 pounds. Two pilots will be onboard and each passenger must view a 90-second safety video before take-off.
Then, there's the price. Convenience has a cost, after all. The trip will cost approximately $200 to $225 per person, Uber told the newspaper. Prices could increase depending on demand, much like surge pricing for Uber's ride-hailing operation. The helicopters will operate Monday through Friday during the afternoon rush hour.
Eventually, Uber wants to expand its Uber Copter subsidiary to more areas and cities, but for now it's focused on getting the service right. For those with the means and status with Uber, your next trip to JFK may be—pun intended—uber quick.