Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: CES 2020: The Big Trends for Business

CES 2020: Uber and Hyundai's new flying taxi? I give it one star

CES sees the unveiling of a joint effort from Hyundai and Uber to ferry people through the skies. It will take a leap of faith.

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The Uberdai will propel you into the future.

Screenshot by ZDNet

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I have seen the future, and its name is Uberdai.

No, that's not its official name. You, though, will surely begin to chant it as you fly through the sky in Uber and Hyundai's new flying taxi. New flying taxi concept thing, that is.

Unveiled in the full bright lights of CES, Uberdai is a vision of the future that is, well, imaginative.

The idea appears to have three components. First, a flying electric taxi with several propellers -- which does seem a little backward. Hasn't the future got beyond such ancient technology?

You'll be wondering, though, about how this thing comes to your house five minutes late. It doesn't.

As far as I can tell, you leap into a pod that looks like a castoff from one of Elon Musk's tunnel projects and is five minutes late. This takes you to a hub with a skyport on top, and there, you'll encounter your flying taxi.

At the other end, another pod presumably takes you to your destination.

This all seems about as simple as grating a large watermelon.

I suppose, however, that in our onrushing dystopian future, there'll be no way around such forms of transport.

It'll be this or a self-driving Tesluber.

Perhaps, then, it'll simply be a matter of whether you'll choose Uber Pool, Uber Black, or Uber-and-Over, aka Uberdai.

I fear you may have some initial qualms about flying in an unmanned taxi. Reassuringly, Hyundai explained: "The Hyundai vehicle will be piloted initially, but over time they will become autonomous." From singular to plural in but a few words.

Just like your standard Uber, the Uberdai will accommodate four passengers. Which, if the idea soars, will mean extremely crowded skies. Yes, just like the over-Uberized city streets you know and love now.

Moreover, the Uberdai only has a range of 60 miles, and recharging takes 5 to 7 minutes. Imagine all the bepodded customers getting just as annoyed as they do now when their train is late. And really, how many flying taxis can you get onto the skyport all at one time?

Please forgive my besmirching of this future, but I find it hard to adore.

It sends frissons of insecurity into my deeper parts. Especially as Hyundai explained its pods -- the so-called "eco-friendly urban vehicles" -- will feature "customized services in transit (i.e., coffee shop, medical clinic)."

I.e., not e.g. It seems these are the two fundamental customized services.

Yes, instead of going to Starbucks, you can get into your pod, enjoy a grande almond-milk latte, while having your bunions and hemorrhoids seen.

I'm Uberdai-ing to find out what that's like.