Forget self-driving cars. Flying cars are the way of the future according to a NASA advanced aircraft engineer who has joined forces with Uber Technologies Inc.
After 30 years at NASA, Mark Moore has left the aeronautical administration to head up the transportation network company’s flying car initiative, Uber Elevate, as director of engineering for aviation.
This isn’t Moore’s first flying-car initiative. In 2010, he published a white paper on vertical take-off and landing aircraft (referred to as VTOL) exploring the viability of electric aircraft. They’d be faster, smaller and quieter but work in a way not too dissimilar to a helicopter, the white paper found.
It was this report that caught the attention of Larry Page, co-founder of Google, spurring him to start two new businesses – Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk – to develop flying vehicle technology.
The aim of Uber Elevate, though, is to reduce overall travel time for commuters. In its own white paper published in October last year, Uber stated; “Every day, millions of hours are wasted on the road worldwide. Last year, the average San Francisco resident spent 230 hours commuting between work and home – that’s half a million hours of productivity lost every single day…
“For all of us, that’s less time with family, less time at work growing our economies, more money spent on fuel – and a marked increase in our stress levels.”
According to studies published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, those who commute more than 16km are at higher risk of high blood pressure.
For these reasons Uber Elative decided to explore on-demand aviation: to reduce the amount of time spent on the daily commute and ease on-ground congestion.
As you’d expect, such an ambitious concept is not without problems. Noise pollution, safety, and vehicle power are all issues Uber Elevate faces.
Moore brings with him years of experience, sacrificing his NASA retirement, to help the brand overcome the obstacles and push Uber Elevate to be the market leader in flying vehicles, a cause he clearly believes in. “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,” He told Bloomberg.
At this stage, however, Uber doesn’t intend actually building the aircraft, but rather “play whatever role is most helpful to accelerate the industry’s development.”
Move over autonomous cars, there’s a new kid on the block.