Why are UAV drones key for urban air mobility?

One of the most important concerns about urban air transportation is how UAM vehicles are going to be controlled. The most promising idea is to take solutions from UAV drone development.

To successfully operate in city areas, urban air transportation needs to be as safely as possible. Potential pilots of urban air taxi would meet various challenges. Less risky option is to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to operate in such conditions. This is the reason why unmanned technologies are crucial for the future of urban air mobility.

How can UAV drones contribute to UAM development? 

As a term, UAV has been displaced by a more popular “drone”. In fact, an unmanned aerial vehicle refers to any remotely controlled aircraft. Every drone, no matter of its purpose, is in fact an UAV. The industry of such vehicles has grown largely during the last five years. Drones became an important part of the aviation industry. Why is the key position of unmanned aerial vehicles crucial for the development of urban air mobility?

Flying in urban areas is not an easy task. Putting a human pilot at the controls of such a vehicle may be risky. To safely operate in a city environment, urban air mobility aircraft have to be remotely controlled. Only as an unmanned aerial vehicle, UAM aircraft can run without causing any trouble in your city. Does that mean people’s dreams about private cars won’t come true?

How will unmanned air transportation work? 

Today, it is still hard to say how the future urban air mobility market will look like. The most possible scenario is using UAM solutions strictly for public transport. This way, unmanned aircraft are going to work as on-demand flying service. People will be able to call it just like today’s urban taxis or ride-hailing service.

There is, however, a place for private urban air mobility UAVs in this situation. Someone could buy such a vehicle for his own use only. It would have cost them a lot, and they still wouldn’t be able to operate such aircraft by themselves. This idea of private urban air mobility vehicles would be similar to modern self-driving solutions, like Tesla Autopilot for example.

UAV technological inspirations 

But self-driving isn’t the only notable concept that could be borrowed from UAV development. The drone industry has a lot to offer when it comes to used technologies and materials. Almost a decade of constant improvements has made drones the perfect aircraft to operate in almost any conditions. Some of those solutions may help urban air mobility developers to provide a suitable vehicle for urban travels.

Over the last years, UAVs became lighter, quieter and more energy efficient. Transferring said achievements into the development of urban air mobility will make future flying services a lot more comfortable. Today, we still have to rely on helicopters when it comes to urban air travels. But soon, UAVs capable of carrying people will exit the prototype stage and become widely available in city areas.


The three biggest questions about urban air mobility future

Urban air mobility is a fascinating concept which can change city travels forever. It can make humanity’s dreams about flying cars come true. But are people ready for such a revolution?

Invention of aircraft was a milestone in the history of transportation. Ability to take to the skies has reshaped our civilization. However, it took some time for people to fully adapt to those new technologies. Today, traveling on long distances by airplane is a common thing. How long does it take people to get used to urban air mobility? After all, a flying car still seems like a science fiction idea. What needs to be changed? Let’s answer the three most important questions about when will UAM become available worldwide.

Are urban air mobility vehicles ready to travel? 

Let’s start with the very basis of every transport: a vehicle. We talked about urban mobility aircraft in our various articles before. The aircraft used for air transportation need to be reliable enough to operate in the complicated urban environment. It has to be light, quiet and safe for the surrounding. The best solution to match all those requirements is an electric, unmanned aerial vehicle.

Currently, the work on “flying car” development is very advanced. Many companies, like Uber or Airbus have already presented functional urban air mobility prototypes. They still need more practical tests in actual urban areas. However, from the technological point of view, vehicles like Volocopter or City Airbus are ready to fly.

Are cities ready for UAM solutions? 

As you can see, UAM vehicles are well prepared for work. Far more complicated matters are cities themselves. To enable UAM travels, governments must make some necessary legislation preparations. As for now, there are no regulations concerning UAM solutions in most cities around the world. Without them, traveling by flying car will be simply illegal.

There is also a matter of city design. As a completely new mode of transportation, urban air mobility vehicles need special infrastructure to operate. Even as vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL), flying cars must have some designated places to land. As electric vehicles, they will also need to have some special docking stations to recharge batteries.

Are we ready for urban air mobility? 

Finally, the last question concerns us. Are people ready to travel by urban air vehicles? After all, they do not resemble people’s imaginations about a flying car. In practice, UAM vehicles are going to be more like autonomous, unmanned flying taxicabs. Owning such aircraft is likely to be a rare situation. And operating an urban air mobility vehicle by private pilot will simply be impossible due to safety considerations.

But it doesn’t mean that UAM solutions are going to be less popular. We are already traveling by on-demand services in city areas on our daily basis. Urban air mobility will simply take taxicabs and ride-hailing services on a literally higher level. Such a solution will surely make city travels a lot faster and easier.


How commercial and military drones contributed to the UAM?

Drone industry is a source of inspiration for urban air mobility development. Solutions drawn from commercial or military drones help to make UAM vehicles more reliable and functional.

To develop the best possible vehicles, urban air mobility designers need to draw inspirations from all branches of aviation industry. Last time we talked about the connections between the UAM and helicopters. Today, we take a look on the commercial and military drones.

Groundbreaking technology of military drones  

Various modern technologies have their origins in experimental military research. From space rockets to computers, many essential achievements of our civilizations began in the military. Drones have also begun their career there. The work of the US Army on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) contributed to the development of the common drone industry.

Because of the nature of their tasks, military drones have always needed to be the pinnacle of modern technology. Those vehicles have to operate in various, challenging conditions. It is a perfect test for the technology used in military drones production. Experience gained in that field can be extremely useful in the further development of the urban air mobility vehicles

Commercial drones – an example of safe urban vehicle 

However, military drones are not the only part of the drone industry which influence the UAM development. Urban air mobility companies can draw a lot of inspiration from modern commercial drones. Today, they are the most popular type of unmanned aerial vehicle. People use commercial drones in various situation. But why they are so important for UAM development?

In many cases, commercial drones have to operate in the city areas. To create a suitable aircraft for this environment, drone industry designers need to take various conditions into consideration. Thanks to their research, these vehicles are safe for the surrounding. Commercial drones should also be quiet and finally, they have to be energy efficient.

Inspirational example of military drones 

Both commercial and military drones are perfect source of useful information for urban air mobility designers. First can help to develop a vehicle capable of operating in urban areas. After all, UAM aircraft need to be as safe as commercial drones seen in our cities. On the other hand, all important detail provided by military drone researches may help to create a versatile aircraft.

The drone industry is a perfect inspiration for the UAM for one more reason. It proves how quickly people can adapt to new technologies. Few years ago, drones seemed to be a prototype vehicle straight from science fiction movies. They were far too expensive, or even unobtainable for common people. Today drones are integral part of our lives. It is a proof that urban air mobility vehicles may become common thing sooner than we can expect.


Helicopters — the first urban air mobility vehicles

The UAM industry is full of fantastic prototypes of urban air mobility vehicles. But before we start to use them, we need to depend on helicopters.

There are plenty of urban air mobility vehicles ideas. Most of them aim to utilize drone technologies and other groundbreaking solutions. However, the most popular aircraft in the UAM industry right now is the old, good helicopter. What is the key to its success? And will helicopters be eventually replaced by new urban air mobility vehicles?

Helicopter — the first VTOL aircraft

By its definition, helicopters suit very well into the idea of urban air mobility. Those vehicles are in fact the first functional VTOL aircraft ever made by human hand. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, VTOL aircraft translate directly into “vertical take-off and landing”. This ubiquitous vehicle has been with us for almost a century.

The key to the success of helicopters lies in their versatility. Unlike planes, helicopters don’t need a runway to take-off and land. It greatly expands their capabilities, allowing them to operate in environments not available for other aircraft. Being a VTOL aircraft makes helicopters a perfect urban air mobility vehicle to begin with.

Uber helicopter and other on-demand services 

While more advanced urban air mobility vehicles are still under development, helicopters are perfect VTOL aircraft to show how the UAM works in practice. Thanks to their capability of vertical landing, they can operate in urban areas. That’s why some companies from the urban air mobility industry have decided to use helicopters for urban air taxi services.

Probably the most notable example is the Uber helicopter project named Uber Copter. The initiative is a part of the larger Uber Air project, and it means to show the potential of UAM vehicles. It enables urban air travels carried by Uber helicopters on a limited route in New York. Other notable on-demand helicopter service is Voom, developed by Airbus as a part of their own urban air mobility project

Precursor of urban air mobility vehicles

Despite their versatility, helicopters still have some flaws. They are large, loud, and they need a well-practiced pilot to operate safely in the city environment. Still, they are an important stage in the development of urban air mobility vehicles. They allow us to see how VTOL aircraft work in urban areas. It is an extremely helpful way to convince people to UAM.

Further development of urban air mobility will eliminate most troubling disadvantages of helicopters. Lighter and more reliable electric VTOL aircraft will be even more versatile than them. Moreover, autonomous, remote control will eliminate the need for capable human pilots. It will also significantly reduce the risk of an accident. But before we will be able to travel in more advanced UAM vehicles, we need to rely on projects like Uber helicopter to show society how UAM works.


Air taxi — the most comfortable way to travel

Urban air mobility is a great opportunity to make city travels easier. Ait taxi is one of the most promising ideas related to this concept. How close we are to make flying taxis a real thing?

Who wouldn’t like to take an air taxi instead of sticking to the ground in a car? Urban air mobility (UAM) is the concept which enables air travels in the city landscape. Number of real-life implementations of the air taxi idea is growing every year. Let’s look how this fascinating concept works in practice, and how it can change our cities in the near future.

Air taxi – the future of the city transport

Nowadays, taxicabs are an integral part of every large city. They allow us to travel easily through urban areas without any concern. A taxicab is a perfect choice for those of us who prefer fast and reliable transport. It is also a last resort in some unexpected situations when we need immediate transport. Whenever we are late for a meeting or miss the bus, taxis are our salvation in a face of unexpected events.

The air taxi takes this idea one step further, by eliminating inconveniences of ground vehicles. By utilizing modern technologies, the urban air mobility industry aims to provide on-demand flying services in cities. Soon we will be able to call an unmanned personal aircraft to carry us on the other side of the city. Can you imagine a better way to avoid a traffic jam?

Precursors of the flying taxi 

Right now, flying taxis may seem like a science fiction concept. However, the number of real-life implementations of this idea is growing every year. Some of them, like Linear Air Taxi, have been operating since 2004. The company focuses on on-demand flies operated by light aircraft.

Another example is Uber Air, an on-demand flying service developed by a famous ride-hailing company, Uber. The idea of the initiative is to elevate city travels up to the sky. Right now, Uber Air offers on-demand flying services operated by helicopters on some limited routes. However, the company keeps working on their own personal air vehicles.

How to make air taxi available for everyone?

Uber Air, Linear Air Taxi and other similar projects lay the foundation for a further urban air mobility development. However, their services are still hard-to-reach for a large part of our society. The main cause of this situation lies in used vehicles. As for now, air taxi services rely on traditional aircraft. They are expensive to use, which translates for limited availability and high prices.

The best solution to resolve this problem is to replace traditional aircraft with more efficient personal air vehicles. Lighter, smaller and powered by electric motors, the air taxi of the future will be a mode of transport accessible for everyone. But how long will we have to wait to travel by modern urban air taxi?

We already have functional personal air vehicles, like VoloCity produced by Volocopter. Uber Air is aiming to launch their on-demand autonomous air taxi by 2023. All we need right now is proper legislation. Without appropriate regulations, urban air mobility service won’t be able to operate in the city air space. However, we are on the right path to achieve it.


7 ways how UAM will change city landscape

Air transportation solutions provided by the UAM industry are the key for making our cities better places to life. How exactly flying vehicles are going to change the city landscape?

Modern cities struggle with various issues resulting from their nature. Constantly growing number of cars leads to some severe problems. Annoying traffic jams, car accidents and air pollution can be avoided with UAM technologies. Are they going to be a standard solution for urban travels?

UAM – a new hope for modern cities

Today, over half of the people on Earth live in the urban areas. According to the UN, this number is going to grow up to 68% of the world’s population by 2050. Cities became our natural habitat. There are the centers of our economic and cultural lives. Through decades, our civilization has been working on making them the most suitable places for our kind. 

Despite that, today’s cities still struggle with some problems. One of the most important challenges is to provide a reliable mode of transport for the constantly growing population. Old vehicles, like cars or buses, cause some undesirable problems and are not efficient for modern cities. The best candidate to replace them is the UAM industry, capable of providing air transportation for urban areas. 

How will air transportation change the city landscape?

The idea of urban air mobility is an entirely new concept of air transportation. We still need some time before UAM becomes a standard in our cities. However, we may easily predict how flying vehicles will influence the urban environment. Here you have seven predicted consequences of the introduction of UAM solutions:

  • Limiting the number of cars in the cities in favor of unmanned on-demand flying vehicles 
  • Reduction of pollutions caused by car traffic 
  • Lowering the number of car accidents 
  • Raising the safety of pedestrian traffic  
  • Economic boost caused by the emergence of a new UAM industry 
  • Replacing traditional urban modes of transport with more efficient air transportation 
  • Reduction of noises caused by a traditional transport

Will flying vehicles replace private cars?

As you can see, urban air mobility is going to make the modern city a better place to live. But does the implementation of UAM mean that traditional cars are no longer needed? After all, we are aiming to replace them with a much more reliable air transportation. Does the city full of flying vehicles still have some place for a more “grounded” mode of transportation?

Of course, moving from cars to flying vehicles will take some time. As for now, UAM aircraft are still mostly prototypes. It gives people plenty of time to change their habits. And even with air transportation available in cities, there are still plenty of situations where traditional cars will be needed. Enthusiasts of traditional transport may rest easy, ensuring that they won’t be deprived of their favorite vehicles.


Will air transportation become a standard of urban travel?

Urban air mobility is a vastly developing market aiming to introduce air transportation in cities. It is only a matter of time while flying cars (or, to be more specific, personal air vehicles) will become available. But is this new mode of transportation going to be widely available for everyone?

Urban air mobility is still a new concept. It is a good moment to think about the future direction of this futuristic industry. How the implementation of air transportation is going to look like in the city landscape? Will flying cars and VTOL vehicles dominate the sky, and will we need pilot’s license to catch up with a new trend? Or maybe air transportation solutions are going to be reserved for public transport and urban taxi?

Private flying cars…

Let’s be honest: we all have dreamed about flying cars at some point of our life. Visions of flight above the landscape of a futuristic city have been with us for decades. Today, thanks to the development of drone technologies, flying personal air vehicles may finally become reality. But are flying cars going to be available for private customers just like nowadays traditional motor vehicles? 

Air transportation is a far more complicated than driving a car. Flying in an urban landscape is a great challenge even for the most experienced pilots. That’s why driver’s licenses for personal air vehicles are not a viable solution. The best possible outcome for safe flying cars is a remote-control system. By making urban air transportation automated, we will minimize the possibility of error. 

… or public air transportation? 

This leads us to the other concept of UAM development, which differs a lot from the vision of private flying aircraft. Most of the urban air mobility companies prefer to focus on the development of a public air transportation. In this scenario, web of on-demand aerial vehicle and urban taxi executes the idea of urban air mobility.

This solution has many advantages. By favoring unmanned aerial vehicles, UAM developers are able to create a reliable and secure air transportation network. Because of its automatization and centralization, it will be easier to oversee air vehicles. This will help to adjust urban air mobility solutions to the city landscape.

Urban air transportation for everyone 

The high focus on public air transportation doesn’t exclude privately-owned flying cars. Of course, such vehicles needed to be controlled remotely, just like flying urban taxi services. However, due to high costs of production and maintenance of such experimental technology, this option is going to be limited (at least at the beginning) for the wealthiest clients interested in owning a flying car.

But public urban air transportation won’t be so exclusive. On-demand flying urban taxi will be an affordable option for every citizen. As a mean of public transportation, UAM vehicles are going to be far less expensive than private flying cars. Moreover, cities interested in the development of a sustainable and safe urban landscape may even cover the cost of operations, making urban air mobility vehicles an evolution of today’s buses.


VTOL aircraft and other vehicles which shape UAM industry

Success of the urban air mobility idea lies in aerial vehicles. They need to be reliable and secure to enable the safe transportation in city areas. UAM companies utilize modern technologies to achieve this goal. From VTOL aircraft to commercial drones capable of carrying passengers – the UAM industry is full of amazing vehicles.

Recently we talked about futuristic drone technologies used by UAM companies. Today we look on very specific types of vehicles which has contributed to the development of modern air transportation in cities.

VTOL aircraft – helicopters of tomorrow 

The idea of urban air mobility is often associated with the concept of the VTOL vehicle. It is an abbreviation for “vertical take-off and landing”. The term may seem complicated at first. However, the very first implementation of the VTOL idea, the helicopter, has been with us for nearly a century. VTOL vehicles bear some significant advantages over other modes of an aerial transport.

Unlike airplanes, they don’t need a large runway area to take-off or land, which is invaluable in the urban environment. However, today’s implementations of this solution have some flaws. Modern helicopters are noisy, and they need a trained pilot to fly. For decades, the aviation industry has been working on innovative ideas of vertical take-off and landing vehicles. The most promising one is electronic VTOL. It aims to utilize modern technologies to provide safe and secure air transportation.

Influence of commercial drones 

Urban air mobility can learn a lot from modern commercial drones. Constructional solutions used in this industry are important guidelines to the development of UAM travels. Some types of commercial drones such as quadcopter can be successfully modified to work as a mode of transportation suitable for carrying passengers.

UAM also draws from the software solutions of modern commercial drones. Usually, they are unmanned aerial vehicles, capable of running even without a human operator. Such a high level of autonomy might be necessary to create a sustainable and secure network of UAM vehicles. It will eliminate the possibility of human mistake, which consequences would be catastrophic in the urban area.

Personal air vehicle prototypes

All breakthroughs made in the field of VTOL vehicles or commercial drones have boosted the UAM industry. It led us to the development of modern prototypes constructed by urban air mobility developers. Companies such as Airbus or Uber proposed their own ideas of a personal air vehicle. In those amazing concepts, they utilize the solutions of both the aviation industry and the drone market.

For example, CityAirbus is a functional prototype of an electric VTOL vehicle. From the technical side, it is a quadcopter similar to modern commercial drones. However, it is fully capable of carrying up to four passengers. The development of this aircraft would not have happened without technological achievements of its predecessors.

Every new personal air vehicle prototype brings us closer to the widely available urban air mobility service. We still need to overcome some disadvantages to achieve this goal. But thanks to the inspiring achievements in the field of aviation technology, the dream of flying cars may soon come true.


The groundbreaking drone technology of Urban Air Mobility

Expectations toward urban air mobility vehicles are high. VTOL aircraft and personal air vehicles need to be safe and effective. That’s why the UAM industry relies on the best achievements of modern science and drone technology.

Last week, we talked about various companies investing in the development of the urban air mobility industry. Today, we are going to take a closer look at technological challenges needed to be passed to make the dream of UAM come true.

Technological challenges of urban air mobility vehicles

Constructing a functional vehicle capable for urban air mobility services is not an easy task. The aircraft designed for travel in the city landscape needs to fulfill plenty of requirements. The most important one is safety. Urban air mobility vehicles should provide reliable and secure construction, not only for passengers, but also for the surrounding. 

Moreover, such vehicles must be well fitted into the city landscape. As a replacement of traditional urban transportation, UAM vehicles need to be more comfortable than cars or buses. They should be dependable and easily available for everyone. Only that way, UAM will provide passengers with a solid and stable mode of transportation. Finally, urban air mobility vehicles like VTOL aircraft need to rely on a sustainable source of energy. 

How drone technologies can help UAM? 

Fulfilling the above requirements needs a lot of research and field tests of new vehicles. Thankfully, the UAM industry can rely on the achievements of drone technology. Inspirations drawn from the drone market can boost the development of urban air mobility vehicles.

Over the years, drones became lighter, quieter and more energy efficient. Drone technology came a long way from loud and clumsy devices to the current state of high-end remote aircraft. Such a breakthrough was able to achieve thanks to the utilization of light materials. That is why proper components are key to make urban air mobility vehicles a reliable mode of transport safe for the city landscape.

VTOL aircraft – next level of drone technology

As for today, urban air mobility vehicles still seem like a science fiction concept. However, not so long ago, drone technologies were perceived that way too. Few years ago, only scientists and military services were using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Today, drones are a common sight in our society. From moviemakers using them to catch a perfect shoot, to private enthusiasts of drone racing — drone technology became a natural part of our society.

Soon, such a shift may happen to urban air mobility vehicles. Many concepts in the UAM industry draw from military researchers. The best example is VTOL aircraft, which translates for “vertical take-off and landing” vehicle. This idea eliminates a need for space in the procedure of take-off and landing which makes it a perfect solution for urban air mobility vehicles.

Most of the UAM companies plan to utilize the idea of VTOL aircraft in the construction of personal air vehicles. With the aid of drone technology solutions, urban air mobility vehicles will soon become the most advanced mode of transport in the urban landscape.


Who is investing in the urban air mobility market?

A growing popularity of urban air mobility market has caused many companies to get interested in the idea of more sustainable city travels. Who are the most prominent investors in this brand-new industry?

UAM is still a new concept in the world of air transportation. The idea of urban air mobility is simple: to enable safe urban travels with personal air vehicles. But every high-tech industry needs some investors, who help increase its value on the global market. We have recently mentioned Volocopter, which is a good example of UAM precursor. Today look on some other prominent players in this brand-new urban air mobility market!

Airbus – an urban air mobility leader 

Despite some undeniable differences between UAM and traditional airplanes, both have a lot in common. No wonder that one of the most notable investors dedicated to personal air vehicle development is Airbus, which is also a leading aerospace company. Airbus urban air mobility branch is trying to turn dreams of flying cars into a reality.

The most promising project so far is CityAirbus. This vehicle will provide passengers with on-demand flight services. A four-seat personal air vehicle is going to be remotely controlled. Airbus urban air mobility division also pays a lot of attention to regulatory issues. Without proper legislation, UAM has not a chance to become fully implemented. And the support of an important player in the aviation industry is going to help urban air mobility market a lot.

Flying taxi with Uber Air 

But aviation industry isn’t the only one interested in the development of UAM solutions. Urban air mobility market is going to change the way how people travel in city areas. This is the reason why its development is also a crucial matter for companies specialized in traditional road transport. As for now, the most promising one is Uber Air, which is a part of the Uber Elevate project.

The famous ride-hailing company has already reshaped the character of city travel. Its on-demand services appeared to be a strong competition to traditional taxicabs. But Uber Air is going to take this revolution to a literally new level. The idea is very similar to Airbus urban air mobility concept. Uber Elevate largely focuses on the development of personal air vehicle for on-demand travels. But while Airbus takes advantage of its experience in the aviation industry, Uber Air is going to utilize well-checked ride-hailing solutions.

Urban air mobility market startups 

Both Uber Air and Airbus urban air mobility projects are still in the early stage of development. The airline mogul keeps working on new prototypes of personal aircraft and VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) vehicles. Uber already offers on-demand travels with helicopters. But those two companies are not only players on the vastly developing urban air mobility market.

The idea of UAM is also a very attractive concept for startup. Increased interest in this industry has inspired creation of many new companies strictly dedicated to that goal. From Kitty Hawk, established by Google co-funder Larry Page, to Chinese-owned Terrafugia, the vision of flying cars is attracting visionaries from all over the globe. Despite some differences, all those companies share a common goal: to leverage urban air mobility market and make personal air vehicles a standard for urban travels.