The Silicon Review
07 Febuary, 2017
Uber hired Mark Moore as their engineer for aviation, Mark Moore severed 30 years at U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Moore is taking on a new role as director of engineering for aviation at the ride-hailing company, now working on a flying car which 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,” Mark says
Mark Moore published a white paper outlining the feasibility of electric aircrafts that could take off and land like helicopters smaller and quieter. The vehicles would be capable of providing a speedy alternative to the dreary morning commute. Moore’s research (PDF) called VTOL, in- short stands for vertical takeoff and landing- flying cars inspired at least one billionaire technologist. After reading the white paper, Google co-founder Larry Page secretly started and financed two Silicon Valley startups, Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk, to develop the technology.
"Uber continues to see its role as a catalyst to the growing developing VTOL ecosystem, We’re excited to have Mark working with companies and stakeholders as we continue to explore the use case described in our white paper," said Nikhil Goel, head of product for Uber's advanced programs.
The company laid out a radical vision for airborne commutes and identified technical challenges like noise pollution, vehicle efficiency and limited battery life. Moore consulted on the paper and was impressed by the company’s vision and potential impact.
Replacing cars with aircraft is something a big challenge. Airspace is incredibly well regulated, and it would require strong lobbying efforts to add a whole bunch of personal aircraft into the mix. The company would also need to look out on infrastructure, which would include "vertiports" scattered around suburbs and cities.
Uber believes that, in the long term, VTOL can become an affordable method of daily transportation, especially as ridership increases and suppliers settle down into long relationships with manufacturers.
Having 55 million active riders, can uniquely demonstrate that there could be a massive, profitable and safe market. “If you don’t have a business case that makes economic sense, than all of this is just a wild tech game and not really a wise investment,” said Moore
Moore is leaving NASA one year before his retirement and walking away from a significant percentage of his pension and free health care for life. To be in the right place at the right time to make this market real and also added “It’s the federal government who is best positioned to overcome extremely high levels of risks.” Moore says.
Uber remains focused, as its white paper includes a 10-year plan for certification and other testing taking place by 2025.
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