Uber has hired a veteran engineer from NASA to lead the ride-hailing company’s flying car program dubbed Uber Elevate.
Mark Moore is an advanced aircraft engineer with 30 years of experience at NASA and in 2010, made waves after publishing a paper about the feasibility of electric aircraft. This paper inspired Google chief executive Larry Page to invest in two aircraft startups in Silicon Valley and now, Moore has been appointed as the director of engineering for aviation at Uber.
The company imagines that in the future, road-going Ubers could be used to transport users from their homes to so-called ‘vertiports’. At these vertiports would be a number of VTOL (vertical take-off and landing aircraft) that can transport passengers to their desired location.
In a statement, Uber’s head of product for advanced programs Nikhail Goel said “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.”
Uber believes that the solution to urban gridlock is to turn towards the sky. Unlike trains, buses and cars which are forced to use fixed routes, Uber’s VTOL can travel independently of a specific path to maximize efficiency. The company says that when traveling from San Francisco’s marina to downtown San Jose, a drive can take up to 2 hours. By comparison, a VTOL trip could take just 15 minutes.