A statement from the company said its vision was "for safe, quiet electric vehicles transporting tens of thousands of people across cities for the same price as an UberX trip over the same distance".
Susan Anderson, regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia made the announcement at Uber’s global Elevate (Uber Air) Summit in Washington on Tuesday, saying: “Since we entered the market in 2012, Australians have embraced Uber wholeheartedly.
"Today, over 3.8 million Aussies regularly use Uber as a reliable way to get from A to B, and governments across the country have recognised the important role ride-sharing plays in the future of transport for our cities."
"This, coupled with Melbourne’s unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the perfect third launch city for Uber Air. We will see other Australian cities following soon after," she added.
Uber also announced partnerships with Macquarie, Telstra and Scentre Group, owner and operator of Westfield in Australia and New Zealand, and said it would work with key existing partners including Melbourne Airport who would support the infrastructure and telecommunications needed for a successful urban aviation network.
“As the gateway to Melbourne for tens of millions of travellers each year, we can see fantastic potential for Uber Air in the future. We look forward to continuing this exciting conversation, and working with government, regulators and our local communities to make this happen,” said Lorie Argus, chief of Parking & Ground Access at Melbourne Airport.
“Macquarie Capital is excited to be partnering with Uber Elevate on the development and electrification of the skyports that will support vertical takeoff and landing, as well as determining the best market structures and models for this infrastructure,” said Greg Callman, global head of Energy Technology at Macquarie Capital. “We look forward to leveraging our expertise in infrastructure, charging, and energy, along with innovation driven by Uber and other partners to accelerate the move toward electric air mobility.”
“Telstra is excited to be part of a truly momentous point in time for Melbourne on the world stage. Our network strength, coverage and leadership in 5G, along with our ongoing work on drones and related standards, will support Uber’s incredible technology and innovation to develop a service we have all imagined would one day be possible,” said Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn.
“We will be working closely with Uber over the next 12 months to assess what network infrastructure, connectivity requirements and other capabilities would be needed to support airspace mobility in urban centres. It is a testament to Telstra’s network and technology capability that we are part of this exciting future."
“Scentre Group is pleased to have been selected to work with Uber Elevate as preferred infrastructure partner and alongside other companies, government and regulatory agencies to explore future mobility options for our customers. Today’s announcement recognises the strategic locations of our Westfield centres, which are regarded as integral social infrastructure because of their close proximity to customers, communities and transport hubs,” said Cynthia Whelan, chief strategy and business development officer, Scentre Group.