In a recent sustainable mobility conference this week in Montreal, Michelin's Movin' On, Uber Elevate Director of Engineering Mark Moore talked about his vision for airborne transportation.
Moore referred to the service as Uber Air, and he related how electric, vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) aircraft are the key to taking daily transportation to the third dimension, making short trips of 30 to 100km eight times quicker than driving.
Then in a panel led by FlightGlobal Managing Editor Stephen Trimble, Moore threw down the gauntlet, challenging Elon Musk's ideas about building tunnels underground to manage traffic congestion.
Talking about Musk's tunnelling endeavour, The Boring Company, Moore said, "Boring. Hmm. Not a good name for a company." He even said that tunnelling costs a lot. "It is about as expensive of an infrastructure solution as you can imagine."
On The Boring Company's FAQ page, it states that "Unlike flying cars, tunnels are weatherproof, out of sight and won't fall on your head." Musk has also said in the past that, "If somebody doesn't maintain their flying car, it could drop a hubcap and guillotine you."
Moore took offence with that idea. "The last of my concerns is that a hubcap is going to come flying off and hurt someone," he said. Moore added, "These are not flying cars. These are very sophisticated, electric, vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft. They don't even have hubcaps."
He is not impressed with the cost of tunnelling as well. "I do not see it as an economically feasible solution. I think it's a great precursor to trying to build communities on Mars."
He added, "I will throw down the gauntlet and challenge him any day that we can prove what we're doing is much more economically feasible and much more able to meet the needs of what users really need, which is high-productivity travel solutions."
He did though add that Musk is a "hero" of his. "He's done incredible things with Tesla and SpaceX."
Uber plans to start testing its VTOL mobility system in Dallas in 2020, with plans for a commercial launch of the service in 2023.