Tom Prevot, Director, Airspace Systems
Uber Air is our most ambitious vision for the future. It takes Uber’s tech into the skies by making it possible for people to push a button and get an affordable flight. We are working with government and industry stakeholders to create Uber’s first effort into creating an aerial rideshare network transporting tens of thousands of people across cities at an affordable price.
What attracted you to Uber?
“I have always been passionate about developing and evaluating future concepts and technologies for the air transportation system. My previous role allowed me to pursue incredibly interesting research, however, Uber Elevate gave me the opportunity to play a broader role in what’s arguably the most exciting phase in aviation since its beginnings: urban aviation. Instead of building research prototypes I get to build real systems for real people, an engineer’s dream.”
Describe your team to someone outside of Uber?
“The Uber Elevate team is working toward transforming the world through aerial ridesharing at scale. We are developing shared air transportation—planned for 2023— between suburbs and cities, and ultimately within cities. We’re working with our Elevate Network partners to launch fleets of small, electric VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft in Dallas, Los Angeles, and our first international market in Melbourne. I direct the airspace systems team, which is developing the airspace products, cloud services, and simulation tools for everything that flies on the Uber Elevate Network. This includes our future Uber Air eVTOLs and our current programs, such as Uber Copter in New York City and our Uber Eats drone deliveries in San Diego.”
What excites you about the work you do?
“The ambition, our mission and my colleagues who I get to work with on a daily basis. We are aiming to change the world. We want to improve life in cities and give time back to people: life can be easier, commutes can be shorter. I get to work with some of the smartest and most passionate people within our organization as well as across industry, academia, and governments all over the world. We are creating an ecosystem that is dedicated to collectively solving the hard problems to make affordable air taxi rides and drone operations safe and convenient for everyone, every day.”
Describe a typical day?
“One of the most exciting parts of my job is that I rarely have a typical day. I work out of two different offices in the Bay Area and travel all over the world for many different purposes. A typical day in the office can consist of a continuous sequence of program planning meetings, leadership tag-ups, 1:1s and jam sessions. Furthermore, I travel and meet with stakeholders in Washington, DC, Melbourne, Australia, I speak at a major international conference or assess new drone delivery technologies in San Diego. Every day is exciting and demanding in different ways.”
What are the most interesting challenges you need to solve?
“We are creating something that has never been done before: the synergy of urban transportation and aviation. We intend to integrate many aircraft safely into the airspace above our cities. In my past, I worked on new air traffic systems that could at best increase the arrival capacity at an airport by 10%. We are now talking about a future in which we will safely fly many more eVTOLs into an airport. It is an enormously interesting and ambitious challenge to develop procedures and technologies with our industry partners, regulatory authorities and international agencies that will safely enable these operations. By combining the tremendous safety culture of aviation with the innovative spirit of Silicon Valley, I am convinced we can accomplish this.”
What do you see yourself doing next with Uber?
“I want to see this through. I want to see Uber Air take off in three and more markets and see many people safely move in aircraft across cities and make their lives better. I also want to see the teams thrive and find great satisfaction in the work they have put in to make this possible. I’m happy to take on all the responsibilities that can help make this happen.”
What have been your biggest achievements so far in this team?
“I got very lucky to be able to build a team with an incredibly strong group of engineers, product managers, and data scientists. These talented individuals were able to create Uber Copter, the first multimodal product at Uber in record time. They were also able to successfully work with government and regulatory authorities through a sequence of pilot programs on UAS traffic management. We have been able to work in harmony with many other industry partners to progress the industry along with our common goals and demonstrate that we can work together to safely share the airspace. I am very proud that my team is sharing the vision and is passionate about achieving our goals.”
List the top 5 skills for success in your team?
- Be passionate and excited about our vision and always start with yes
- Be a team player who embraces diversity and constructive criticism
- Apply your knowledge and skills where they are most impactful
- Don’t be afraid to make big bold bets and reach for the stars
- Be smart and realistic; embrace short term wins and accept failures along the way
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