The dream of using flying cars to take us through our daily commute continues to soar high with Uber’s recent acquisition of a 30-year National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) veteran to head its flying car initiative.
Mark Moore, a NASA aeronautics engineer, will join the ridesharing company as Director of Engineering in Uber Elevate, a division that aims to promote ‘on-demand aviation’ to improve urban mobility by using airspace to alleviate vehicular congestion on the road.
Uber’s seeks to utilize Moore’s groundbreaking work on Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) technology for flying taxis of the future. In a paper published by NASA in 2010, Moore stated that ‘small, personal aircraft that take off and land without extensive infrastructure could be made economically feasible with the use of VTOL technology.’
To make on-demand aviation possible, Uber envisions ‘vertiports’ every few blocks that will allow passengers to board and disembark automated flying vehicles with VTOL technology.
Development of a concept or functional flying taxi has not yet begun although Uber claims that pilot programs will be implemented by 2025.
As attractive a proposition it is to travel by air over short distances to battle traffic on the ground, issues such as aerial traffic and logistics, technology, battery life and cost are in the way, which is what Uber expects Moore and his team will solve.
His work inspired Google co-founder Larry Page to fund the creation of two flying-car start-ups: Zee Arrow and Kitty Hawk.
With the acquisition of Moore, Uber gets a leg up of Google, which has created flying car start-ups Zee Arrow and Kitty Hawk, and Airbus’ Vahana.