JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - We've told you before about the driverless taxi cabs and ride-sharing programs that are still undergoing testing in certain cities. There is something new on the horizon that truly takes this technology to new heights.
If you are tired of battling traffic on the roads, the Air Taxi from Bell Helicopter might be your solution. It's an autonomous helicopter that takes you around your city. Believe it or not, their target market is the average Joe.
"It's for people that have never been in helicopters before," according to Scott Drennan, director of innovation for Bell Helicopter. "People like you and I that want to get across town on a busy traffic route. People that want to get to a game. People who value their time."
Bell officials are looking for future customers who feel that time is money and people who would use the Air Taxi versus waiting in hours of traffic on the ground. It's going to take millions of dollars to get these helicopters off the ground, but company officials are confident in their product and showed us how it would work.
"You would start on the ground," Drennan explained. "And if you're not within walking distance of a vertiport, you would be picked up by a car and taken to a vertiport."
Vertiports are sort of like bus stops. Only that they would be anywhere the Air Taxi could land, most obviously on tops of buildings accessible by elevators.
Most trips would be short, less than twenty minutes, but it's estimated that same trip could take anywhere from an hour to three hours in ground traffic, depending on the city. While you're on board the Air Taxi, you have access to several TV stations as well as web surfing.
It seems the big question is how much will this cost. Drennan said, "That's one of the key parameters is making it available to the masses. Bell Helicopter taxis people around today for hundreds of dollars but we would like to get it down to that Uber Black or Uber Plus price range, something that's more affordable than your automobile so it makes sense for people to get on board."
Even though this seems way far in the future to most of us, Bell Helicopter officials said they plan to have Air Taxis up and running in cities like Los Angeles and New York sometime in the 2020s.
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