Many auto companies are highly concentrated on developing self-driving vehicles. In the past few years, companies like Aeromobil, TerrafugiaTerrafugia, and Moller International started to prepare designs for their models. And the international ride-hailing giant Uber could be joining the list of those looking to turn a predominant of science fiction into the scientific fact. That’s really a great thing.
In the attempt to expand their ride-sharing services beyond boundaries and Uber has set sky is the limit and it has a way to go. Uber recently hired the NASA aerospace engineer, Mr. Mark D.Moore, to spearhead of Uber Elevate. Moore has a strong experience working for NASA. He has worked there for 30 years.
In NASA, Moore was taking care of researching advanced aircraft and technologies and Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) applications. In the year 2010, he published a white paper in which he has described a revolutionary new concept for the flying cars.
In this paper, Moore presented an outline for supplying VTOL craft with the electronic engines. The benefits of this are high efficiency and very little noise or vibrations, zero emissions, high engine power to weight rating. Above all, the technology is scalable and it offers the same benefits regardless of the size.
For the past five years, Moore was the Principal Investigator at the Convergent Electric Propulsion Technology and the operation research project, it is shortly called as SCEPTOR project, and it is the NASA project to create the first manned Distributed Electric Propulsion aircraft.
In addition to this, Moore was the principal investigator of the Leading Edge Asynchronous Propeller Technology, it is also called as Electric Integrated Systems Testbed project. It is the one year program that developed and tested electronic propulsion wing, it used 18 propellers to achieve the flight.
Uber on the Move
In October 2016, Uber Technologies announced the creation of Uber Elevate, Uber is highly involved in the technology and strives to develop something new, so that it can more profits in its business, Uber Elevate is one step in this regard. And Uber is highly involved in developing the technology.
Uber has hired Moore to serve as the director of Elevate engineering. In the short period, when Elevate was announced Uber released their own white paper. It is a 99-page document and the document outlined the vision of the company of what they called “on-demand aviation”.
The skyscrapers allowed the cities to use limited land in an efficient way. Whereas, the urban air transportation may use three-dimensional airspace to reduce transportation congestion on the ground. A network of small, electric aircraft that has the vertical takeoff and landing option will enable rapid and reliable transportation between the suburbs and cities and mainly within the cities.
This plan will not only depend on the VTOL network to bypass the usual infrastructure of roads, bridges, railways, and tunnels. It would also call for the repurposing of the urban landscape parts. Basically, Uber plans to transform the tops of the parking garages, existing helipads, and unused land surrounding the highway interchanges to create the network of “versistops” and “vertiports” this will complete with charging stations for their vehicles.
Moore was a year away from his retirement, as a result, he will not be able to get his pension and he will not be eligible for the health benefits offered by the company. But this move appears to be motivated by Moore’s ambition to see the development of technology become a reality. And nowadays, it seems like everything happens through the private sector and not within the federal agencies. In federal agencies, there is most likely to happen.
Uber is the on-demand market leader and it has 55million active monthly users. Uber has solved the multi-model last mile problem. It has the incredible access and availability that offers the wait times in major urban areas of 2-3 minutes duration.
One of the biggest questions is that whether Uber’s vehicles will be piloted or automated, on the other side, Uber has launched a series of pilot project programs in order to test the self-driving cars in various locations across the U.S.
There will be an evolution from the professional human pilots to the autonomous driving over time as the background automation. This proves that the self-driving will be the reliable one and it will not require the help of the human pilot. A pilot can sit freely inside the car and the job of a pilot is a risky one because they should be very careful in driving and they are responsible for the lives of the passengers.
Uber is now doing with the autonomous cars on the ground. And it largely focuses on its autonomous cars. In addition to Uber and Google, the aerospace giant Airbus is also working on its VTOL car project. This project of Airbus is called as project Vahana. Airbus announced in November 2016 that Vahana is being run by the company’s Silicon Valley arm. This is done with the aim of developing the self-piloted VTOL craft by the early 2020s.
Joby Aviation, another Silicon Valley company, this company specializes in aircraft design and also in the electric motors and this company is hoping to expand into the VTOL market. And there is no shortage of entrepreneurs who are looking to harness the dream of VTOL transportation.
There will be some who will say that these VTOL concepts are not the “flying cars” basically. Uber and Google Airbus are looking to build vehicles that are more similar to transportation drones or personal helicopters.
But the terminology of this concept is that it has deep roots in the science-fiction phenomenon, but this has never been entirely accurate. In the end, the term flying car has been used to refer the vehicles that depend on the aerial traffic networks to get people from the starting point to the destination. It is expected that the promise of the flying cars in the 21 st century will finally come true.
Recent advancements in technology have made it possible to build vertical takeoff and landing vehicles. Uber, with the help of the NASA engineer, is working on that.
Many companies are taking the design approaches and are working on these this of aircraft; Uber has also joined this list. VTOL aircraft will be running on the electricity, they will be quiet and non-polluting since it emits no fuel.
Auto-pilot capacities will be built into the aircraft to reduce the potential for the human mistakes and they could recharge at the landing parts, helipads, unused land or on the stations built.
The development team should make the aircraft more affordable, reliable, training the pilots, getting permission from the regulators and making the lightly weighted batteries.
The greatest operational obstacle is that deploying a VTOL fleet in the cities where there is a lack of sufficient places. Hope this dream will become a reality soon.