How about a pilotless air taxi?

Those are coming, too. Not as quickly and with fewer details now available, but it’s out there.

Advanced Air Mobility company Wisk agreed to a deal with Sugar Land last week to bring pilotless air taxis to the Houston area.

The company hasn’t finalized its first launch city, according to its website, but aims to have its first passenger taxi operational before 2030.

The partnership has Wisk setting up the foundation for a network of air taxis through the Houston area. The company and city will identify and develop land at Sugar Land Regional Airport for the landing and taking-off of the Wisk air taxis.

“The Greater Houston area is experiencing some of the highest population growth in the country, which calls for new and efficient ways to move across the region,” Wisk CEO Brian Yutko said in a statement. “Sugar Land’s strategic location within the Greater Houston region, and its forward-thinking city leadership, make it an ideal partner for us and one that is uniquely positioned as an early leader in the launch of air taxi services.”

Wisk was founded in 2010. It is a subsidiary of Boeing.

My earlier post about flying taxis in time for the 2026 FIFA World Cup was for taxis that included pilots. There’s more about this innovation here, and that embedded Chron story from August, which I must have missed at the time, talks about flying taxi service to and from destinations other than the airport, like the Medical Center or the Galleria.

Which makes sense. Both of those are in demand and a nightmare to drive into. Transit is an option – I take the light rail to the Medical Center if at all possible; with the completion of the Uptown Line and the eventual construction of the Inner Katy Line, there will be BRT to the Galleria at some point – but not for everyone. I would presume that there will be room for the air taxis to take off and land in these places as well, perhaps on available rooftops. But what about at the other end of those trips? I mean, I can’t imagine having an air taxi come to your house to pick you up or drop you off. If the idea is that there will be designated locations for flying taxi boardings, then there’s still a last mile problem – you have to get there and either be dropped off/picked up in a car or park your own car there. That’s going to make this more expensive for everyone. I haven’t seen any discussion of this as yet, so maybe I’m overlooking some obvious solution. If so, I can’t wait to see what it is.

And speaking of cost, all these stories compare the price of these air taxi rides to Uber Black. (I missed that in the previous post.) The August Chron story quotes someone saying that’s about four bucks a mile; I checked the cost of an Uber Black from my house to IAH for a Monday morning and it was about $100, so that checks out. But that doesn’t factor in any costs of getting to and/or parking at the designated taxis stops. So who knows.

All of this is still kind of pie in the sky. Let’s see if this really is a thing in 2026 for the World Cup, and we’ll go from there. Does this sound more or less enticing than pilot-driven air taxis to you?

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2 Responses to How about a pilotless air taxi?

  1. C.L. says:

    “I checked the cost of an Uber Black from my house to IAM for a Monday morning and it was about $100, so that checks out.”

    @Kuff, if you can hire an Uber Black from the Heights to Amenas, Algeria, for $100, I think you should jump on that (but keep a look out for Al-Qaeda while there).


  2. CL – Ha! Good catch. It’s fixed now. Thanks!

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