Uber has hired a former NASA engineer to head its aviation department in an effort to push forward its ambitions to build a flying car.
Mark Moore—who has 30 years of experience at NASA—will join the ride-hailing service as director of engineering for aviation at Uber Elevate.
Uber’s futuristic vision of autonomous drone-filled skies was detailed in a 99-page white paper, published last year by Jeff Holden, Uber’s chief product officer.
The “Elevate” network proposes to make use of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles, which are comparable to helicopters in the way they manoeuvre, but are less expensive, noisy and inefficient.
“Recently, technology advances have made it practical to build this new class of VTOL aircraft,” Holden’s paper states. “Over a dozen companies, with as many different design approaches, are passionately working to make VTOLs a reality.”
Among the biggest barriers currently preventing VTOLs from coming to market are regulation, battery technology, reliability and safety.
With Moore onboard, Uber will hope to overcome these obstacles and pioneer the world’s first fleet of on-demand flying cars.
Moore’s LinkedIn profile describes the potential of such technology as having the ability to “facilitate a change in aviation that within the next 20 years could be breathtaking in terms of impact and market cap.”
This idea was expanded upon further by Moore in a research paper he published during his time at NASA.
In it, he describes how: “A zero emission, highly efficient, highly reliable, ultra low noise VTOL capability would be a game changer compared with existing close proximity flight capabilities, for both unmanned and manned applications.”