Uber has hired Mark Moore, an advanced aircraft engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center, who in 2010 published a white paper on the feasibility of electric aircraft that could take off and land like small, quiet helicopters.
At Uber, Moore will be director of engineering for aviation. Uber is working on a flying car initiative dubbed Elevate. Last year Uber published a white paper which expressed the company’s ambitious vision for airborne commutes.
Flying cars are a moonshot; we’re all having enough difficulty fathoming autonomous vehicles as a viable mass-consumer option. But according to Moore, Uber is exactly the type of company that could render such technology feasible—at least in theory.
Moore and Uber believe commuters could take Ubers to “vertiports,” which are basically bus stops for flying cars. The “air taxis” would then fly riders to the vertiport nearest their destination. While Uber is actively developing autonomous technology, the first wave of flying cars would be human-controlled.
Moore is leaving NASA only one year before he would be eligible for a very comfortable retirement. However, he says he would rather work toward his vision becoming a reality than retire.