Flying cars are the promise of the future that never quite happens. Movies have taunted us for years with all kinds of flying contraptions, notably that DeLorean in Back to the Future, yet engineers can’t make them real. Uber is set to tackle the challenge with a little help from a NASA engineer.
If anyone can make cars fly, it ought to be a guy from NASA. The guy in question is Mark Moore, an advanced aircraft engineer who came up with an idea for air taxis. By taking to the air and avoiding the crush of traffic on the ground, he estimates rush hour travel speeds could improve by three times.
Moore thinks his plans can work, but not without a practical reason for pushing forward. Simply wanting flying cars because they’re cool isn’t enough. A business model that could prove profitable is another story and that’s what he sees happening at Uber.
Uber Elevate’s plan calls for vehicles that take off and land vertically so they won’t require any kind of runway. They will be powered by electricity with a range of 50 to 100 miles on a single charge.
Calling a flying Uber will work the same way calling a regular Uber works today. Customers will open an app on their phone, hail a ride, and their flying Uber will appear.
If it sounds crazy, know that Moore isn’t the only one who thinks flying cars are a viable proposition. Larry Page of Google fame and Airbus are also working on flying car services.
There are, of course, a few challenges that will need to be overcome before flying cars are a reality. Notably, some sort of infrastructure needs to be developed. Helipads aren’t on every street corner, not would that even work. A network of well-located pickup and drop-off points will have to be mapped.
The Federal Aviation Administration will also need to be involved. Flying cars are aircraft, so their operation needs to work within FAA guidelines and not interfere with the flight patterns of standard aircraft.
If Moore can make the technology work and Uber can find their way toward developing the infrastructure and getting government approval, Uber Elevate could change how we travel.