Uber has named Melbourne as one of the three locations around the world to trial its aerial taxi service in 2020. The company's Uber Air pilot - which will also run in the US cities of Dallas and Los Angeles - aims to connect transport hubs like airports to central city sites.
Uber announced the new plans at the company's Elevate summit in Washington after sealing the deal with Melbourne Airport and companies Macquarie Capital, Scentre Group and Telstra. The global rideshare company said test flights were due to start from 2020 and plans were for commercial operations to commence from 2023.
"Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology," said Susan Anderson, regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia.
"This, coupled with Melbourne's unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the perfect third launch city for Uber Air. We will see other Australian cities following soon after."
Ms Anderson said Victoria's state government had been "highly supportive" of the plans for the trial.
"Melbourne is one of the world's most liveable cities and importantly it's innovations like this that demonstrate that we're at the leading edge of new technologies," Treasurer Tim Pallas told the ABC.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) told ABC Radio Melbourne the authority would work with the company to ensure the service was safe before it started operating. "There are lots of challenges there — technical, logistical and very much … safety," CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said.
"We need to make sure that at every stage, all the safety boxes have been ticked, that they've gone through all the risks, identified them and worked out how they're going to manage those risks."