Why take taxis through congested city streets when you can just fly to your final destination?


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A while ago London Heathrow announced that in 2025 they’d launch an air taxi service into the center of London, and now, if you’re heading to O’Hare International Airport from downtown Chicago, you too might be able to skip traffic by taking an “air taxi” instead of a traditional taxi – provided that your jaunt can wait a couple of years.


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United Airlines announced Thursday that it will launch Chicago’s first commercial air taxi route in 2025, leveraging electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft to transport people between hotspots.


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Beginning in 2025, residents and tourists can hop onto an Archer Aviation “Midnight” eVTOL from Vertiport Chicago to O’Hare International Airport and vice versa. Vertiport Chicago, the continent’s largest eVTOL takeoff and landing facility, is conveniently located near several medical, shopping, and recreation amenities, making it an ideal hub for the city’s new transportation option. A flight between the two take off and landing points will take about 10 minutes, compared with 35 minutes of driving (in light traffic) and an hour of public transit use.

That could be a pretty comfortable 10 minutes. With a total payload capacity of 1,000 pounds, Midnight can carry up to four passengers with minimal luggage, making it a practical transportation option for business travellers, couples, or small families. It’s also said to be far quieter than a helicopter at just 45 dBA (versus helicopters’ 100 dBA or more). Archer hasn’t offered a lot of visibility into Midnight’s cabin, but sneak peeks appear to show wide seats with harness-style seat belts, similar to the kind you’d wear on an open-door helicopter ride.


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“Both Archer and United are committed to decarbonizing air travel and leveraging innovative technologies to deliver on the promise of the electrification of the aviation industry,” said United Airlines Ventures president Michael Leskinen on Thursday. “Once operational, we’re excited to offer our customers a more sustainable, convenient, and cost-effective mode of transportation during their commutes to the airport.”


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United first expressed public interest in eVTOL transportation last year when it shared that it had purchased 200 electric air taxis from Eve Air Mobility. Just before this announcement, United had promised Archer a minimum purchase of $10 million to get travellers to and from airports via eVTOL. Both investments are part of United’s plan to become carbon neutral without using traditional offsets by 2050 – a goal well complemented by the state of Illinois, which aims to use 100% clean energy by the same year.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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