Uber may have earned its stripes by bringing ridesharing into the mainstream, but the Travis Kalanick led company clearly has ambitions that stretch far beyond routine carpooling. Whether its UberEATS or the company’s aggressive research and development into self driving car technology, there’s no denying that Uber wants to completely revolutionize all aspects of the transportation industry.
Still, it appears that Uber’s transportation goals may be even loftier than most would have otherwise assumed. According to report from Bloomberg, Uber recently hired a former NASA engineer named Mark Moore who has a research background into what can accurately be categorized as flying car technology.
Now Moore is leaving the confines of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where he has spent the last 30 years, to join one of Google’s rivals: Uber Technologies Inc. Moore is taking on a new role as director of engineering for aviation at the ride-hailing company, working on a flying car initiative known as 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,” he says.
Uber’s interest in air-based travel is of course nothing new. Back in October, the company published a nearly 100-page whitepaper detailing the ins and outs of its Uber Elevate program. Hyping up a future where Uber Elevate is a reality and a basic way of life, the company boasts that such a transportation option could easily transform a laborious 2-hour commute into a leisurely 15 minute flight.
“On-demand aviation, has the potential to radically improve urban mobility, giving people back time lost in their daily commutes,” Uber explains. “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. Just as skyscrapers allowed cities to use limited land more efficiently, urban air transportation will use three-dimensional airspace to alleviate transportation congestion on the ground.”
In a nutshell, Uber’s vision of the future includes a sizable network of small and electric-powered aircraft capable of transporting users in and between relatively nearby cities. Uber Elevate may not be a technology or service that will see the light of day anytime soon, but it’s certainly exciting to see companies like Uber working hard to transform science fiction into reality.