Uber hires a NASA guru to help it understand flying cars

Mark Moore will help make airborne ridesharing a reality.

Uber is eager for the day when you can take a flying car across town, and it just landed a key hire that could help make this a reality. The company has recruited Mark Moore, NASA's technology lead for on-demand mobility, as its director of engineering for aviation. This doesn't mean that the ridesharing firm will build its own flying cars, at least not any time soon -- rather, he wants to "make this market real." That will likely involve solving technical obstacles that Uber's hardware partners face, such as extending the range of electric aircraft or reducing noise pollution.

You might have seen Moore's work before. On top of contributing to Uber's initial white paper on its vision for airborne ridesharing, he helped NASA research the viability of a personal electric aircraft nicknamed the Puffin. This is an engineer who understands the specific challenges Uber and its allies will face, and might just help bridge the gap between the company's idealistic vision and practical reality.

The hire might have come just in time, too. Google co-founder Larry Page reportedly started funding flying car companies (Kitty Hawk and Zee.Aero) in response to Moore's work, suggesting that the engineer's talents are in high demand. It may have just been a question of which tech giant snapped up Moore first, rather than whether or not he'd leave NASA in the first place.