Susan Anderson, Uber's Regional General Manager for Australia, New Zealand and North Asia, told Reuters that it's because the Australian government "adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology." Melbourne, in particular, has a "unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology" that make it perfect for the trials.
The ride-hailing service plans to start testing UberAir's electric vertical-take-off-and-landing vehicles in 2020, three years before the service's expected launch. Melbourne's test flights will take passengers from one of the Westfield shopping centers to the city's main international airport. That's a 12-mile journey that typically takes 25 minutes or so by car -- with a flying taxi, it'll only take 10 minutes. Passengers will be able to book flights through the Uber app like any other ride for prices comparable to UberX's, though they have to be cool with making their way to and from landing pads called "Skyports."
Uber is currently working with a number of companies to design its flying vehicles. It also working with NASA to create an air traffic control system to manage its flying taxi fleet.