Uber has hired Mark Moore, an advanced aircraft engineer from NASA’s Langley Research Center, to head its flying car project: Uber Elevate. The initiative seeks to develop vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) technology and vehicles.
The ride-hailing company is betting on these flying cars to become a new transportation platform sometime soon.
Moore is just as enthusiast about the technology, and together they will try to help the industry catch up to their ideas.
Uber Elevate would be the next big step for the firm after entering the self-driving game. Limited fleets of semi-autonomous cars in partnership with Volvo and Ford have started driving hundreds of commuters in U.S. cities.
Uber is the right company to make flying cars a reality
“I CAN’T THINK OF ANOTHER COMPANY IN A STRONGER POSITION TO BE THE LEADER FOR THIS NEW ECOSYSTEM AND MAKE THE URBAN ELECTRIC VTOL MARKET REAL,” Mark Moore told Bloomberg.
The former NASA engineer popped up in the tech industry’s radar after publishing a lengthy research paper about vertical takeoff and landing vehicles back in 2010.
Moore’s report sparked considerable interest among entrepreneurs and aviation enthusiasts at the time. It is speculated that it was precisely because of the report that Google co-founder Larry Page personally started two flying car startups that same year.
Now, Uber is pulling the famous aircraft engineer from NASA’s Langley Research Center just one year before he can retire and enjoy a public administration pension for the rest of his life.
Moore, however, is confident that the Travis Kalanick-led company has the right idea in Uber Elevate. He also wants to be a part of history by being at the right place at the right time if they manage to make the technology mainstream.
Larry Page is really into flying cars
While Uber Elevate’s plans do not involve manufacturing their flying cars, there are a couple of firms around the world already working to bring VTOL vehicles to the sky.
Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk are the two companies founded and funded solely by Larry Page, the former CEO of Google. Both startups are incredibly secretive, but it is known they are working on prototype vehicles that resemble a small plane.
eVolo from Germany has a somewhat eclectic approach to VTOL aircraft with the Volocopter, a two-people mini helicopter with 18 rotors. The company expects to roll out a production model next year.
EHang is a Chinese drone company that is also working on a supersized drone-like taxi that can fit just one passenger. The vehicle has already undergone testing in China, but U.S. regulations prevent it from flying into the territory.
Airbus is developing not one but two flying cars. One of them, the CityAirbus is a similar concept to what Uber is trying. That unit could carry several people at once, and they would be able to reserve a seat on it through an app.