TOKYO: Uber Technologies Inc Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said on Tuesday he can see commercialisation of the Uber Air flying taxi service happening within five to 10 years.
The U.S. ride-hailing app maker has said it expects flying vehicles to eventually become an affordable method of mass transportation.
Khosrowshahi was speaking at an investor forum in Tokyo on his first visit to Asia as Uber CEO.
Ride-hailing firms such as Uber see populous Japan as a potentially lucrative market and are pressing regulators to ease stringent rules governing the taxi industry.
Airbus in the first week of this month said that it had successfully held the first test flights of the Vahana, an electric, pilotless flying vehicle that it hopes will be able to ferry people around cities.
The flight at a test range in the US state of Oregon lasted just under one minute, with the aircraft lifting up five metres (16 feet) from the ground and landing without control from a pilot, the European aerospace firm said in a statement.
Propelled by eight rotors that allow it to take off and land vertically, Vahana completed a second test flight on Thursday, and additional testing is slated including forward flight.
The aircraft, which Airbus has been developing for less than two years, is designed to carry one passenger and fly autonomously, according to its website.
“Vahana aims to democratise personal flight and answer the growing need for urban mobility by leveraging the latest technologies in electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision,” Airbus said in its statement.
Autonomous driving technology has made considerable progress in recent years with high-tech firms and established automakers putting test vehicles on the roads, while a handful of inventors and start-ups have developed flying cars.