Uber has reportedly hired a NASA researcher for its 'Uber Elevate' flying-car project

Uber self-driving Volvo SUVUberIt can’t fly. Yet.

Not content to remake the taxi business, Uber now wants to take ride-sharing to a whole new level. A
vertical level.

As Bloomberg’s Brad Stone reported, Uber has hired a NASA researcher, to crack the flying-car challenge. Moore was already a player in the whole Silicon Valley dream of flying cars, having written a paper that got Google Larry Page into the idea via several investments.

According to Stone: “Moore is leaving the confines of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where he has spent the last 30 years, to join one of Google’s rivals: Uber Technologies Inc. Moore is taking on a new role as director of engineering for aviation at the ride-hailing company, working on the company’s flying car initiative, known as “Uber Elevate.”

The idea isn’t as implausible as it might sound at first. Uber wants to use the electric-powered, short-rage flying-cars, which could take off and land vertically, to connect ground-based Uber rides.

So what Uber is really aiming for her is a way to enhance and accelerate its existing service, albeit in a truly blue-sky manner.

Terrafugia TransitionScreenshot via TerrafugiaThe Terrafugia Transition.

Flying cars have stubbornly resisted becoming reality. Terrafugia, a Massachusetts-based startup, has with its Transition “roadable aircraft” developed a viable flying-car technology, but thus far, the company hasn’t delivered any of the aircraft/vehicles.

Complicating matters is that Uber is now pushing for an aggressive self-driving car rollout — it has a fleet operating in Pittsburgh, and had the company not run afoul of California laws, it would also be testing prototypes in San Francisco (they were sent to Arizona).

Too many threads in a rapidly growing business suggest throwing spaghetti at the wall. Based on Stone’s reporting, however, it appears that Uber Elevate is more of a strategic moon-shot kind of thing than a technology that will soon see a practical application.

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