Uber’s ride sharing concept didn’t just revolutionize the transportation industry – it carved a totally new business model. It’s no surprise then, that the company is consistently investing in technology that will once again prove to be game changing.
Last October, Uber announced plans to develop vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft to provide a cost-effective and efficient ride sharing service that can shuttle passengers around cities. Now, former NASA engineer Mark Moore will be joining the team to bring these flying, on-demand vehicles into reality.
Moore, who originally lent his engineering expertise for Uber’s white paper on the VTOL craft, will now serve as the company’s Director of Engineering for their new concept, dubbed Uber Elevate.
“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,” the 30-year NASA veteran shared with Bloomberg.
Challenges of Flying Cars
While Moore is intent on taking Uber’s vision to new heights (literally), he’s pragmatic enough to recognize the technological and logistical challenges of this project.
On the technical side, the company has to contend with improving vehicle efficiency and limited battery life, while making sure to address potential issues, like noise pollution. On the logistical front, the company has to lobby regulators to reduce air-traffic restrictions, and certify aircrafts for use. But, given Uber’s 55-million-strong market, it’s in a prime position to demonstrate the potential of this technology, and maybe even pave the way for other innovators who are working to bring vehicles to the skies.
AeroMobil has been working on a prototype that combines the characteristics of a traditional car with a small airplane. Airbus’ Project Vahana is working on a similar, helicopter-style autonomous vehicle that can ferry passengers in the air. And Jetpack Aviation, a company primarily focused on developing jetpacks, is dipping their toes in the flying car industry.
Uber, along with all these companies, will inevitably create a new frontier in transportation – defined by convenience, sustainability, and innovation.