Uber Technologies, the billion-dollar tech giants behind the on-demand taxi app, have hired an ex-NASA engineer to get their dreams of flying cars off the ground.
About 7 years ago, NASA engineer Mark Moore wrote a paper on the practicalities of a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle for personal air travel. Now, he’s been eyed up by Uber, who hope to use his know-how and 30 years of experience to develop their plans for flying urban transportation, Bloomberg reports.
“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,” Moore told the publication.
Uber first put forward the bare bones of this idea in October last year, outlining a futuristic vision of “on-demand urban air transportation.” They imagined the system would involve a network of partially-autonomous flying vehicles that can take-off and land from “vertiports”, stations on the top of existing skyscrapers.
According to the plan, "On-demand aviation, has the potential to radically improve urban mobility, giving people back time lost in their daily commutes.... A network of small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically... will enable rapid, reliable transportation between suburbs and cities and, ultimately, within cities."
Within this report, Uber highlighted the numerous hurdles urban VTOL vehicles will have to overcome, including efficiency, emissions, noise, battery life, the certification process, reliability, safety, air traffic control, and cost. While Moore is hardly going to be putting together a flying car in his first week, he’ll no doubt play a role in addressing these numerous issues.
It's also unlikely the plans will hit the skies in the coming few years. However, in the long run, Uber certainly appears to have the vision, foresight, and funding to introduce a little bit of The Jetsons to your drunken journey home.