In an interview, Holden shared his interest in "vertical takeoff and landing" vehicles (VTOL), claiming, "It could change cities and how we work and live".
The man who will bolster Uber's future plans is Mark Moore, a former NASA worker who will serve as the transportation services giant's director of engineering for aviation. Even without funding to build one of his designs, Moore became synonymous with flying vehicle technology, so much so that he consulted Uber on its research that ended up in its VTOL white paper, Bloomberg reported.
"A network of small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically ... will enable rapid, reliable transportation between suburbs and cities and, ultimately, within cities", Uber wrote a paper on which Moore consulted. In its own white paper published last October, the company laid out a radical vision for airborne commutes and identified technical challenges it said it wanted to help the nascent industry solve, like noise pollution, vehicle efficiency and limited battery life.
Moore was reportedly disenchanted with NASA because the agency is not exploring innovative aviation projects.
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Moore himself was encouraged by Uber's work in the field and, after helping the ridesharing giant craft its VTOL white paper in October, he chose to leave NASA after 30 years for a top spot at Uber. "It's the federal government who is best positioned to overcome extremely high levels of risks", he says.
"Uber continues to see its role as a catalyst to the growing developing VTOL ecosystem", Uber's head of product for advanced programs, Nikhil Goel, said in a statement emailed to PCMag.
As for Moore's flying auto background, the researcher has previously published writings about how plausible the concept might be. "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". Back in October, the company published a almost 100-page whitepaper detailing the ins and outs of its Uber Elevate program.
In his move to Uber, NASA seems to have lost one of its biggest proponents of this technology.