Vehicles | December 21, 2020 7:00 am

Are Flying Taxis Coming Soon to Los Angeles?

The city government sets an ambitious goal

"The Fifth Element" flying taxi
This is a flying taxi from "The Fifth Element." Not quite the same thing, but still.
Pedro González Castillo / Getty Images

Watch enough science fiction movies and you’re bound to encounter flying cars. And where flying cars go, flying taxis can’t be too far behind. Perhaps the apex of this is Bruce Willis’s heroic cab driver in 1997’s The Fifth Element; there’s also the obscure DC Comics character Space Cabbie, among countless others.

Flying taxis are beginning to seem like more of a reality, though some of the specifics remain nebulous. Earlier this month, Uber sold its flying taxi division, Elevate, to Joby Aviation.

The dream of flying taxis is very much alive in Los Angeles. A new report by Alissa Walker at Curbed describes a recent announcement by LA mayor Eric Garcetti regarding the creation of an urban air mobility partnership, What does that mean? Evidently, flying taxis by 2023.

Walker notes that “urban air mobility” is essentially shorthand for a particular class of vehicles, described equally well as “extra-quiet helicopters or extra-large drones.”

As Walker points out, the issue here is less about questions of pollution or safety and more about pragmatic concerns. Are flying taxis ever going to become a widely used form of transportation, or are they currently using more public resources than they should? It’s a troubling question with few easy answers.

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