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We May Finally Get Flying Cars, Thanks to Uber

Technology By
(Uber)
(Uber)

 

It seems self-driving cars were just a start. Uber’s ambitious new department, Uber Elevate, wants to develop actual flying cars, and they’ve hired a former NASA engineer to show them the way.

Mark Moore, who wrote a white paper about the feasibility of flying cars back in 2010, will helm Uber Elevate, which hopes to introduce flying cars (more officially known as VTOL-capable aircraft) to commuters and city dwellers.

Uber’s specific ideas about how flying cars could be used are outlined in their own white paper on the subject, which describes people zipping between their homes and workplaces via flying cars that take off and land at strategically-placed “vertiports.” It sounds a bit like the airborne version of a subway system, minus the constant track maintenance.

(Alberto Ruggieri)
(Alberto Ruggieri)

 

It should be noted the idea faces significant obstacles. For one, airspace is heavily regulated, and aircraft certification is a costly and bureaucratic process. Given Uber’s prickly relationship with certain markets over regulations, that’s going to be a big fight. There are also mechanical concerns—noise pollution, vehicle efficiency, limited battery life—and, of course, the fact that commissioning fleets of flying cars is going to come at a substantial cost.

Still, it’s hard not to get excited about this idea. Flying cars have been a science-fiction staple for decades, to the point where they’ve become shorthand for “the future” as a general concept. Moore, for his part, is giving up his NASA pension and free health insurance for life to help Uber Elevate get the ball rolling. As foolhardy as that may seem, Moore is eager “to be in the right place at the right time to make this market real.”

RealClearLife Staff