While Elon Musk is thinking in subterranean terms with his tunneling obsession to ease traffic woes, Uber Technologies is looking upwards by hiring NASA’s advanced aircraft engineer of 30 years to head its Uber Elevate project, an ambitious but plausible endeavor to get its taxi services airborne.
In short, Uber has hired the veteran engineer to help develop flying cars – the future of commuting. His appointment as Uber Elevate’s director of engineering for aviation was announced Monday by Uber Technologies.
“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 said in a statement to Bloomberg.
In 2010, Mark Moore, researched and published a white paper on the feasibility of electric aircraft with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities which inspired Larry Page of Google fame to secretly start and finance Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk, two Silicon Valley startups, to develop the technology as reported by Bloomberg Businessweek last year.
Uber is reported to have impressed Moore with its own white paper on VTOL technology, technical hurdles that needed overcoming, and its long-term vision of taking everyday commute to the air with the intention of providing noise-free and eco-friendly rapid commute to its customers.
“Uber continues to see its role as an accelerant-catalyst to the entire ecosystem, and we are excited to have Mark joining us to work with manufacturers and stakeholders as we continue to explore the use case described in our whitepaper,” Nikhil Goel, Uber’s head of advanced programs, said in a statement to TechCrunch.
A progressive company, known for revolutionizing the taxi industry by connecting self-employed drivers with commuters, Uber is now testing self-driving cars in Phoenix and Pittsburgh after it faced a setback when a similar test in San Francisco was judged illegal. And now it has its sight set on an eco-friendly airborne transportation service.
“It could change cities and how we work and live,” Uber’s product head, Jeff Holden, had said last year. “We want to offer our customers as many options as possible to move around.”
“On-demand aviation has the potential to radically improve urban mobility, giving people back time lost in their daily commutes. Uber is close to the commute pain that citizens in cities around the world feel. We view helping to solve this problem as core to our mission and our commitment to our rider base,” says Uber in its Uber Elevate white paper of October 27, 2016.
Uber’s plans to offer an on-demand airborne taxi service through a fleet of electric aircraft or, colloquially speaking, flying cars that will be VTOL capable and travel 100 miles per charge at a maximum air speed of 150 mph seems to have taken off vertically with the hiring of Mr. Moore.