Are flying cars just around the corner?
Wednesday 08 February 2017
Marty Mcfly and Doc Brown watch out, because you might not have the skies to yourselves for much longer after Uber Technologies acquired former NASA engineer Mark Moore to lead its flying car program, Uber Elevate.
Image Source: Back to the Future
According to Bloomberg, the appointment follows the release of a white paper last October by the ride-sharing startup which proposed a future in which commuters could beat the traffic by hailing an electric, helicopter-like aircraft to zip between local “vertiports” and slash commute times.
Moore, who spent 30 years with NASA, published his own white paper in 2010 which outlined the potential of an electric aircraft (flying car) which would fly and land like a smaller, quieter helicopter.
“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 (vertical takeoff and landing) market real,” Bloomberg reported Moore as saying.
With over 40 million active users across its ride-sharing platform and a reported $11 billion on its balance sheet Uber has made it clear that it wants to be a leader in the urban air transportation sector.
They aren’t alone though, with Google co-founder Larry Page having reportedly invested $100 million in rival projects after reading Moore’s 2010 paper.
The proposed vehicles would be able to travel as far as 160km, with a two hour car commute potentially taking as little as 15 minutes in a VTOL vehicle.
Uber has admitted that there are a number of technical challenges to overcome before any flying car dreams become reality, with noise pollution, battery life and efficiency all factors to be resolved.
The company is also unlikely to step into the manufacturing game itself, with Uber’s October white paper alluding to its position in the sector as "to play whatever role is most helpful to accelerate this industry’s development.”
“Uber continues to see its role as an accelerant-catalyst to the entire ecosystem, and we are excited to have Mark joining us to work with manufacturers and stakeholders as we continue to explore the use case described in our whitepaper,” said Nikhil Goel, Uber’s Lead Product Manager for Advanced Programs.
While it might be too early to swap your current vehicle for the flying variety, if you are looking for a trade up make sure you find the best deal on a new car loan by heading to the Mozo comparison hub.