Apple May Be Buying Drive.ai; Uber Ready to Launch Heli-Taxis; Amazon Reveals Delivery DronePosted: June 6, 2019
There’s an unconfirmed report out today that Apple may be buying Drive.ai. According to 9to5mac.com, they are mainly interested in acquiring the engineers from the self-driving startup. In fact, the deal has been dubbed an ‘acqui-hire!’ For some time, it’s been fuzzy whether Apple is just developing a self-driving system they can pitch to car makers, or if they are building an actual Apple branded car under Project Titan.
Uber may not quite be ready to launch its autonomous flying taxis, but they are preparing to start offering air transit in New York City beginning July 9th. Engadget.com reports that Uber Copter will be available to Uber Rewards members who have hit Platinum and diamond status. The average ride will run you between $200 and $225. For reference on the price…I knew an auto dealer in Houston who commuted by chopper and it ran about $200 a day back in 1980…he said the 15 minute commute instead of 90 minutes in traffic was worth it to him and his dealership. Worth noting—they will fly a predetermined route, not drop passengers just anywhere. They will fly between a location near the Staten Island Ferry and Kennedy Airport…flight time will be around 8 minutes. Each chopper will hold up to 5 passengers and two pilots, but very little baggage. The choppers will be operated by the Heliflite charter service.
On Wednesday, Amazon unveiled its new drone at the Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas. Businessinsider.com says the delivery drone will have a range of 15 miles and can deliver a package of up to 5 lbs. Amazon claims the drone will allow deliveries within 30 minutes. The tiny drone aircraft takes off and lands as a helicopter, then switches to straight winged flight like a VTOL fighter plane such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. The drone is capable of sensing hazards like wires, chimneys, and paraglider in real time, and can avoid them. Amazon didn’t announce when they might begin actual deliveries to customers for money in the US, but it is certainly getting much closer to that.