Uber is pressing forward with its "flying car" initiative -- otherwise known as Uber Elevate -- by hiring Mark Moore, 30-year veteran of NASA, to serve as its director of engineering for aviation.
Uber isn't building its own flying cars at this point. However, the company is interested in advancing the technology and the ecosystem around it. Uber confirmed last fall that it's looking into VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) technology as a way to transport riders on short trips. VTOL technology allows aircraft to hover, take off and land with a minimum of noise and space.
"It could change cities and how we work and live," Uber's Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said in September, adding that such technology could be used in cities within a decade. The company published its VTOL white paper in October.
"Uber continues to see its role as a catalyst to the growing developing VTOL ecosystem," Nikhil Goel, Uber's head of product for advanced programs, said in a statement provided to ZDNet on Monday. "We're excited to have Mark join us to work with companies and stakeholders as we continue to explore the use case described in our white paper."
Moore confirmed to Bloomberg that he's leaving NASA just a year before he's eligible for retirement "to be in the right place at the right time to make this market real."
"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," he said of Uber.
Moore, who in 2010 published an influential white paper regarding VTOL technology, told Bloomberg that the economic case for flying cars needs to advance along with the technology.
Uber isn't the only company interested in flying cars. Some companies have already built prototypes -- Airbus, for instance, is slated to test its autonomous airborne taxi prototype by the end of this year.
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