Uber is betting big on flying vehicles. In October, the company released a white paper detailing its plans for the Uber Elevate project, an attempt to overcome competition by flying over traffic. Its plan is to utilize small, fixed-wing planes called vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) craft. Now, Uber made one of its most serious commitments to the project yet by hiring Mark Moore, a former NASA advanced aircraft engineer, to act as the director of engineering for the project, according to Bloomberg.
Moore’s interest in VTOLs goes way back, and his research for NASA reportedly inspired Google co-founder Larry Page to finance Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk, two Silicon Valley startups working on VTOL technology.
Moore himself was encouraged by Uber’s work in the field and, after helping the ridesharing giant craft its VTOL white paper in October, he decided to leave NASA after 30 years for a top spot at Uber.
“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 told Bloomberg.
Moore admitted there are a number of technical and regulatory challenges to face. For one, Uber has yet to build its VTOL craft, having only detailed a vision of a future with short airborne transits. And Moore said VTOL craft companies would have to lobby politicians for more lenient air-traffic controls and quicker vehicle certifications.
Moore’s commitment to such a future is extremely apparent. He would have been eligible for retirement in a year if he stayed at NASA. By moving to Uber, he will forgo on a big percentage of his pension. He justified his decision to Bloomberg by saying he has a desire “to be in the right place at the right time to make this market real.”
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