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Uber Brings in NASA to Help Cars Fly

The Consumerist jokes that if Uber ever wants to get its on-demand flying car service off the ground (pun definitely intended), it’s going to need some of the best brains in the business. That’s why the ride-hailing company is bringing in a NASA engineer with 30 years of experience at the agency to make the aerial service a reality.

According to Bloomberg (warning: link contains autoplay video), Mark Moore worked as an advanced aircraft engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center on topics like small, quiet electric aircrafts that take off and land like helicopters, but are smaller, thus making them ideal for navigating the daily commute. They’re otherwise known as VTOL — vertical takeoff and landing — aircraft.

Though Google also showed interest in Moore’s research, the former NASA engineer will be taking on a new role at Uber as director of engineering for aviation, specifically, he’ll be working on the flying car plan, Uber Elevate.

“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.

Moore points out that there are a lot of problems to figure out before flying cars become a reality — for example, companies will have to lobby regulators to certify aircrafts and relax air-traffic restrictions — but Uber, with its five million riders, is in a sot to show how it could be a safe and profitable new market.

“If you don’t have a business case that makes economic sense, than all of this is just a wild tech game and not really a wise investment,” he explains.

To that end, Uber hasn’t built a flying car yet, but instead, says it wants to support the budding industry’s growth.

“Uber continues to see its role as an accelerant-catalyst to the entire ecosystem, and we are excited to have Mark joining us to work with manufacturers and stakeholders as we continue to explore the use case described in our whitepaper,” Nikhil Goel, Uber’s head of product for advanced programs, said in a statement.

Uber isn’t alone in trying to take to the skies: Airbus announced in January that it will have a flying car prototype in the air by the end of the year.

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