Proving that Uber is serious about developing the first commercially viable flying car, the ride sharing company has hired away Mark Moore, an expert in electric aircraft, from NASA to head up its personal commuter aircraft development project called Uber Elevate. Moore has walked away from a generous pension and health care retirement package to get in on what many think may be the next big thing in transportation, according to Bloomberg.
Uber’s vision for #flying cars (or maybe flying busses) is a little different than that of “The Jetsons” or “Back to the Future” in which streams of flying cars stream at breakneck speeds over the roofs on futuristic cities. The idea is that for your commute you will take your morning commute in an Uber car to the neighborhood “vertiport” from where you will take a flying car to a vertiport near your place of employment and hence another Uber car to the office or job site. There would be no need for enduring traffic jams. Your commute time will be slashed tremendously.
Of course, three things stand in Uber’s and our way on the way to this beguiling future, technical, government, and economical.
The technical challenges of building a flying vehicle that runs on electricity and can be recharged quickly. It has to have failsafe systems just in case a mechanical or system failure occurs in mid-air. The initial models of the flying car will likely have a pilot, if for nothing else monitoring the computer systems and take over manually just in case it is needed.
Government regulators are going to have to be persuaded to adapt to allow the use of flying cars over populated air space. The process will likely take a lot of back and forth negotiations and heavy lobbying of lawmakers.
The final problem will be economical. An aerial commuting service will not be very useful if middle class people cannot take advantage of it because of cost. Likely, toward the beginning, the service will be a little pricey, but the costs should come down as the technology refines itself and competition sets in.