Uber Air is set to launch in 2020 in Los Angeles, providing ride-sharing flights that cost less than a typical Uber X ride. Could this be the start of the end of motor vehicles and the beginning of flying taxis?
Product design officer Jeff Holden told Lisbon’s Web Summit the company had already designed a prototype for an emissions-free helicopter-style ride to transport people via the skies. The custom design includes many small motors rather than a large rotor like a helicopter and is quieter, while allowing for “emissions free electric flight”.
The all-electric machine will have a battery that can recharge within minutes, while passengers load on and off via a small cabin without the “dreaded middle seat” found on a commercial aircraft.
“This is the beginning of the end of individual car ownership,” Mr Holden said. “Except for a hobby, you won’t own your own car.”
“The gnarliest of commute, an hour and a half on the ground could become a handful of minutes in the air. That’s exciting,” he said.
The company has already trialled helicopter services in Poland but the new Uber Air design is intended to make it “less expensive than driving your own car” through ride sharing and the scale of manufacturing.
“Our stance is that from day one these must be all electric. Ethically we have to introduce something that is emissions free. We have to combat climate change not accelerate it,” he said.
Uber said its goal is to have a flying taxi service up and running in Los Angeles before the 2028 Olympics — and has also released a concept video showing an Uber user getting an elevator to a ‘skyport’ and then taking a flying taxi across the city.