If Uber launches its "flying taxi" service, it will need dozens of launch platforms and landing sites on the rooftops of cities as support infrastructure. At the second annual Elevate conference in Los Angeles, six architectural firms presented their winning designs of what could be called "Skyports". And holy cow, these things seem taken from Star Wars .
The "Sky Tower" of Pickard Chilton and Arup would not look out of place among the Star Destroyers and Battleships of the Galactic Empire (or the First Order, depending on your trilogy). The hive-shaped "Uber Hover" concept of Humphreys & Partners could easily pass through an Ewok village in Endor. The "Skyport Prototype" of BOKA Powell seems ready to take flight and start fighting against a swarm of TIE Fighters.
It is clear that these architects and engineers wanted to adopt some element of retro-futurism when they approach their Skyport designs. That makes a lot of sense, considering that the idea of "flying cars" was once owned exclusively by magazines such as Popular Mechanics and Popular Science and television shows like The Jetsons. Now we can add "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away" to that.
As part of the Uber design competition, the proposed Skyports had to support the transport of more than 4,000 passengers per hour within a 3-acre space, in addition to meeting environmental and noise requirements. They also needed to make sure that electric-powered aircraft could be recharged between trips with minimal impact on nearby communities. However, there were no requirements on droids recharge. (How rude.)
Some of the designs are aimed at modernizing existing buildings with landing platforms, to help keep costs down and improve the project's chances of climbing throughout the city. But most companies let their imagination go crazy while trying to conceptualize what a futuristic "flying taxi" service would look like.
Humphreys & Partners' "hive" naturalist design (top) accommodates 900 passengers per level, per hour and uses sustainable materials to create an ecosystem that self-supplies and "returns to the surrounding area," says the firm.
Pickard Chilton (above) took the idea of Uber's "Elevate" project literally by designing a structure that raises dozens of stories in the air. A single module in this very high Skyport allows 180 landings and takeoffs per hour, with a capacity of 1,800 peak passengers per hour per module. The firm says the modules can be combined both vertically and horizontally to allow the Skyport to adapt to the city's landscape.
BOKA Powell said his design can accommodate 1,000 takeoffs and landings. The structure is flexible to allow wind change and can withstand an average take-off of less than three minutes.
Gannett Fleming calls his design "Pata", and it's not hard to see why. The design would support 52 vertical electric take-off and landing vehicles per hour, per module in a scalable frame that could provide more than 600 arrivals and departures and 4,000 people per hour by 2028.
Corgan's expanding design could be built On an established basis, highway networks "reuse existing and familiar infrastructure and create new travel arteries that can accommodate the increased performance required for mass adoption," says the firm.
The Beck Group was also inspired by bee colonies in its design. Your Skyport concept would be flexible and scalable to accommodate 150 takeoffs and landings per hour and can be extended to up to 1,000 trips per hour.
John Badalamenti, Head of Design for Advanced Programs and Aviation at Uber, called the designs a "The culmination of hundreds of designers and engineers who have created dozens of designs for a highly efficient and modular Skyport". He added: "While uberAIR may seem like a distant dream, it is closer than you think and the urban infrastructure must begin to evolve." now to keep up. "