Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Will Uber's Flying Taxis Take Off, or Just Be a Legal Nightmare?

Flying cars are so lit. In the immortal words of Will Smith, "I've got to get me one of these!"

In that sci-fi movie, the good guys take an alien craft and save the world. In real life, however, flying cars could be a legal nightmare.

For example, Uber is leading the way with plans for a flying taxi. But didn't we see this movie already, and wasn't it a disaster?

Going Up

The Uber concept is an electric, vertical take-off and landing vehicle. That's "eVTOL" for going up and down.

Anyway, it sounds cool enough because it promises more direct transportation in urban areas. No stop lights or crosswalks in the air, you know.

Of course, Uber doesn't make flying taxis. It doesn't even make cars. So it is hiring aerospace engineers to make the eVTOLs.

That's a relief -- especially after Waymo beat Uber into a $245 million settlement in a self-driving car case. It's definitely not a good look.

Going Down

Uber is still a major player in transportation services, but it has major problems and the future is not certain. The company says it plans to launch the aircraft in 2023, but even TechCrunch say that is "ambitious."

CEO Dara Khosrowshahi himself wasn't totally onboard with a flying taxi when he took over for founder Travis Kalanick, who resigned last year after widespread sexual harassment claims against the company. It was a bad year for Uber, but this year could be worse.

In a major blow to gig economy companies, the California Supreme Court recently ruled that "independent contractors" must be treated as employees. With more than 327,000 drivers, no wonder Uber is interested in self-driving cars.

Not to second-guess the company, but if a flying taxi shows up without a driver, I don't care what Will Smith says. I'm NOT getting into one of those.

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