Uber will launch ride-sharing flights in Los Angeles by 2020 that are expected to cost less than a typical Uber X ride, the company announced on Wednesday.

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.

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 "bad boy" will have a battery that can charge within minutes, while passengers load on and off via a small cabin that doesn't have the "dreaded middle seat" found on a commercial aircraft.


The company has signed a handful of partners to build the aircraft and a Dallas-based real estate company to construct skyports across LA by 2020, including one at Los Angeles airport allowing passengers to transfer downtown within minutes.

LA will be the second test city after Dallas and the company has also announced a partnership with Nasa to manage airspace more effectively as part of a "foundational reboot of the air space system".

"This is the beginning of the end of individual car ownership," Holden said. "Except for a hobby, you won't own your own car."

"Just as skyscrapers were the solution to commercial and residential density in cities, we believe that moving local transportation to the sky is going to open up incredible mobility bandwidth in cities."

Holden said the company planned to "offer an Uber Air flight for the cost of an Uber X trip on the ground" as soon as it was launched.

"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.