While most transport companies are trying to replicate what Uber has done to the passenger-commuting business, the tech company is already moving on to something bigger and certainly groundbreaking in the future.
Apparently, Uber has intensified its efforts to realize its vision of transporting the commuters of the future through flying cars.
Although nothing is concrete at this stage, it seems that the recent hiring of a former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engineer has hinted that Uber is up to something big in its research and development department.
Reports have it that the hiring of Mark Moore as Uber’s director of engineering for aviation means that he would lead the research into the technology of flying cars.
Apparently, Uber wants to ease traffic congestion on the roads by operating fleets of airborne taxis, which would let commuters hop across cities in less than half the time.
To work on VTOL technology
Mark Moore is expected to work on the vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology, which is seen as the future of urban aerial transport, reports the Telegraph of UK.
While the vehicles would take off vertically, they could use fixed-wing designs to save energy when flying.
Uber, whose app connects self-employed drivers with passengers, has shaken up the taxi industry but also has an eye on the future.
The company is reportedly undertaking the trial of self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh and Phoenix, after a recent test in San Francisco was deemed illegal. Uber has also espoused the benefits of flying vehicles.
Jeff Holder, head of product for Uber said that flying vehicles could change cities and how people work and life. He explained that their company wants to offer its customers as many options as possible to move around.
Uber projects that the flying vehicles, which could carry several passengers, would be dropping and picking people up at helipad-style stations.
It explained that a 57-mile journey from San Jose to San Francisco, which takes one hour and 40 minutes in a regular Uber car and costs $111, could take 15 minutes via the flying car.
The company has suggested the airborne journey would initially cost $129 but over time that could fall to $20.
A ‘puffin’ aircraft
While he was still working for NASA, Mark Moore created designs for an electric ‘puffin’ aircraft that would be able to carry one passenger.
Critics are saying that flying cars are likely to be years away because it requires a large-scale development of the technology, changes to regulations, and more pilots being trained.
However, if an autonomous flying software can be developed soon, then flying cars could be not too distant as of this time.
In fact, the current limitation on flying vehicles has not stopped several companies from investigating its potential.
Airbus has said it will have a prototype ready by the end of the year, while E-hang, a Chinese start-up, says it has won approval for testing in Nevada.
As the billion-dollar tech giant behind the on-demand taxi app, Uber has certainly made something going with the hiring of Mark Moore.
While still working for NASA, Moore also wrote a paper on the practicalities of a vertical take-off and landing vehicle for personal air travel.
It seems that he was precisely taken in by Uber to continue working and turn his paper into reality.
In a recent interview, Moore said that he can’t think of another company in a stronger position to be the leader for the new ecosystem and make the urban electric VTOL market real.
It can be recalled that Uber first put forward the bare bones of the idea in October last year, outlining a futuristic vision of on-demand urban air transportation.