"Your Uber is LANDING now."
Ready for the future? The ride-sharing giant just hired a NASA engineer to spearhead its Uber Elevate program, a major step towards making on-demand ‘flying cars’ a reality.
Engineer Mark Moore was an advanced aircraft engineer at NASA for ages, and is widely credited for sparking interest in the feasibility of vertical take off and landing (or VTOL) aircraft for commercial, short-distance travel. He consulted on Uber's 'flying car' project (same concept, better name) and decided he wanted to be involved. According to him, Uber has an actual business model that can make these VTOLs practical, which is the only way they’ll ever (pardon the pun) take off.
The company's dream is a fleet of these small airborne vehicles, all piloted autonomously, with a range of 50 to 100 miles. You could call for and direct them just like you do an Uber driver, except, obviously, you’re in the air and having way more fun.
While they’re certainly making the biggest moves in the space, Uber’s not the only company exploring the idea of VTOL transport for the masses. Google's Larry Page is heavily invested in the action, and to a degree, you could consider Airbus’ short flight business model as a competitor.
While we obviously have the technology to manufacture VTOLs (all helicopters qualify), the issue is cost. It’s far too expensive at the moment to operate and produce the vehicles, and then rent them out on a ride-by-ride basis. Uber and others hope to overcome this obstacle by jointly-mass producing the VTOL aircraft cheaply, with the expectation of profits in the future.
So this is still just a (badass) dream, but it’s coming closer to reality every day.