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Uber's latest high-profile hire is an engineer, formerly of NASA, who will "work with companies and stakeholders" interested in a transportation network of aircraft capable of taking off and landing vertically. In less technical terms: that's flying cars.
The news was first reported by Bloomberg's Brad Stone. The engineer, Mark Moore, told him the company is in the right place to be influential over the nascent 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.
Key context: Uber isn't building its own flying car yet, and WIRED reported in October that it wasn't currently in the cards. But the company has outlined an ambitious vision of a not-so-distant future where customers would travel to a central facility to get into one of the aircraft. A company official said in a statement that Uber wants to be a "catalyst" to getting the idea — no pun intended — off the ground.
The policy angle: Uber has warned that policymakers and industry should work closely with the communities that would see the effects of a network of flying cars. They identified several areas — like noise pollution and privacy — where dreams of flying cars could collide with reality.