Last update: February 24th, 2020 at 8:00 am
Uber has hired NASA aircraft engineer Mark Moore to develop the ride-sharing company’s first-ever commercially available flying car. Aside from spending over 30 years working at NASA, Moore was involved getting Google co-founder Larry Page active in flying car development.
Uber Elevate, the company’s premiere flying car platform, is set to launch in 2021.
“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,” Moore told Bloomberg.
Just last October, Uber first announced plans for its Elevate flying car service. The ride-share giant says that their flying taxis could completely revolutionize the daily commute.
Uber Elevate flying cars will operate with a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and drive 100 miles on a single charge. The vehicles could even complete a 2 hour and 12 minute car ride in only 15 minutes in the air.
“On-demand aviation has the potential to radically improve urban mobility, giving people back time lost in their daily commutes,” Uber said in a statement. “Uber is close to the commute pain that citizens in cities around the world feel. We view helping to solve this problem as core to our mission and our commitment to our rider base.”
Instead of manufacturing their own flying cars, Uber plans to collaborate with outside partners who will handle the infrastructure and technical side.
The VTOL flying cars will also include fixed wings with tilt prop-rotors that allow for a much quieter ride than helicopters. Unlike other designs, Uber flying cars will be built with enough room for a pilot and several passengers.
This differs from Uber’s current plant for its ground cars. According to Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick, the company’s goal is to replace human drivers with driverless vehicles “as soon as possible.”
According to the Uber’s official statement, “Over time it’s highly likely that VTOLs will become autonomous, though we expect that initial operations will require pilots. Utilizing pilots in the initial period permits a strategy of building up statistical proof for FAA certification while slowly increasing the level of automation.”
Uber flying car manufacturing will began with a low production rate of 12 units per year, each costing about $1.2 million. Once they begin producing 500 units a year, that number will drop to $600,000 each.
By Rory Arnold, Earth.com Staff Writer