Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Roads

Consumer reactions to Uber’s partnership with NASA to make flying cars a reality

The Jetsons. Sandy and Danny from Greece. Doc and Marty McFly. What did we all envy about these characters when we were growing up? Flying cars! Well, these dreams may soon turn to reality in as little as two years, as Uber and NASA announced a partnership to bring us flying taxis as soon as 2020.

Uber is nothing if not a transportation trendsetter. When they launched their original ride sharing app, they shook up the taxi industry and now account for 70% of the ride sharing industry revenue. And they haven’t slowed down since, further innovating their app with UberPOOL, UberWine, even UberChopper in Dubai. In just a few years, Uber has proven its ability to reshape the transportation industry again and again.

These options are nothing compared to Uber’s upcoming innovations, like the recently announced Uber Elevate, a partnership with NASA to launch a flying taxi service in an effort to shorten commute times between cities and suburbs and reduce congested city traffic. Uber has promised us that they will continue to move beyond just cars, and lead us into the future of transportation.

But are consumers ready? Does the prospect of an airborne commute frighten or excite them?

We analyzed online conversations to see which futuristic methods of transportation consumers are more excited about, and which they fear, by analyzing:

  • Developing transportation methods share of voice
  • Emotional reaction to each method
  • Reasons for those reactions

Your UberAir is Arriving in…2 Years

The history of transportation fits neatly into the framework of the history of the world. The automobile, the steam engine, the airplane; all are notable moments in history that revolutionized how people, goods, and information move. And when discussing the future, people often jump to transportation questions “do you think we’ll have flying cars?” “Will we teleport?” “Weren’t we promised jetpacks?”

Companies might be closer than many realize in terms of developing flying cars, and other means of transportation. Flying taxis might come as soon as 2018, self-driving cars are close to full market release, and a magnetic train faster than a commercial jet has begun testing. But which one is the market most interested in?

 

Autonomous vehicles have been dominating the futuristic transportation conversation for the past 4 years. However, flying cars and hyperloop, the aforementioned system of magnetic levitating trains promising to get you from Boston to Miami in less than 2 and a half hours, have been chipping away at self-driving cars’ share of the conversation.

This trend is likely to continue, as autonomous vehicles have suffered months of bad press after accidents and a fatality. But how do consumers feel about the different transportation options?

UberPhobia

While people love to discuss these futuristic vehicles, they don’t always love the idea of some of these methods.

When looking at consumer emotion surrounding Uber’s flying taxi service idea, we find that people are mostly (52%) joyful about the topic. The next largest segment of conversation are those who fear taxiing through the air, accounting for 28% of the conversation.

However, these numbers are much better than the conversation surrounding self-driving cars, where the majority, 65%, of those discussing them were afraid. In comparison, joy made up only 15% of the conversation about driverless cars.

When it comes to longer distance travel, hyperloop seems to be a crowd-pleasing option compared to the two shorter-distance options. Hyperloop elicits a mostly joyous conversation, with 66% of consumers being joyous about the new technology. They also expressed the lowest amount of fear of the three transportation methods, only at 12%.

Notably, consumers seem to be more joyful about the transportation technologies that have not launched. Uber’s flying taxis are slated for a 2020 launch, whereas hyperloop is projecting its first systems to launch in 2021. Self-driving cars are currently being tested throughout the country and have had to deal with negative press emphasizing missteps in the development process.

And the fear is certainly valid. As Uber pushes for self-driving cars and flying taxis, many are worried that they will take away jobs. These new technologies can have implications on more than just cabs, but could remove truckers, delivery drivers, bus drivers, pilots, and plenty more.

People aren’t as nervous about the danger of flying taxis, likely because they’re used to flying. But consumers are not as used to a driverless car.

Those expressing joy are mostly excited about the cool new designs of the flying cars, which look like large drones. Consumers are also excited for reduced commute times, Uber’s main mission in launching their flying taxis.

Whether people are ready or not, Uber certainly has ambitious plans to bring us into the future of transportation. The future of transportation might just revolutionize the way people get from point A to point B, whether that is flying from home to work in 15 minutes or levitating from Boston to Miami in 2 hours and change. Whatever the new norm becomes, we’re going to be living in the world of the Jetsons, so consider all your childhood dreams granted.

For more information on the auto industry, download this report: The Uberization of Transportation

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