Cities have been trying to fine-tune these systems to alleviate the issues, but without major changes, the scope is limited.
- Vincent Loubi├Ęre, AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗«ÔÇÖ Director of City Integration and Infrastructure Development for UAM
A key responsibility for the new unit is understanding how UAM can introduce an added mobility solution to a cityÔÇÖs existing network for the benefit of its citizens. By gathering urban flow data from cities like Paris or Beijing and using advanced modelling software, Vincent Loubi├Ęre - AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗«ÔÇÖ Director of City Integration and Infrastructure Development for UAM- and his team of designers, urbanists, architects and sociologists can simulate and understand how people move around to develop sustainable urban development strategies.┬á
ÔÇťNot only have cities become more densely populated in recent decades, they have also become increasingly centralised as more people travel to, from and around a central point,ÔÇŁ says Loubi├Ęre. This is putting a tremendous strain on ground transportation. "Cities have been trying to fine-tune these systems to alleviate the issues, but without major changes, the scope is limited."┬á
Urban air mobility could bring an entirely new dimension to the way we live and, in the process, reshape city planning. By experimenting with virtual models, Loubi├Ęre and his colleagues are beginning to design convenient, sustainable systems that could seamlessly integrate into an existing city infrastructure.
Of course, some new elements will be required, which is why the team is looking at different types of ÔÇśvertiportsÔÇÖ ÔÇô an airport for VTOL vehicles. This could range from a single landing pad on top of a building to a larger system of multiple landing pads that could redefine the purpose and function of motorways.┬á
ÔÇťOur team is carrying out projects across the public and private sector, and evaluating, for example, how all these different types of flying vehicles might interact sharing the same airspace.ÔÇŁ
- Isabel Del Pozo, AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗« Head of Airspace Management
Beyond working out infrastructure requirements, the unit, through Isabel Del Pozo, Head of Airspace Management, is┬áexploring solutions┬áthat will ensure this new era of flight operates safely and efficiently in the urban airspace.
ÔÇťThe existing air traffic management system is tailored to commercial flights for fixed-wing aircraft. It still relies on voice communication and human-centred task execution,ÔÇŁ she says. ÔÇťWeÔÇÖre already close to exceeding its capacity, and thatÔÇÖs just for manned flights. When we introduce autonomous vehicles during the next decade, traffic will increase considerably.ÔÇŁ
Del Pozo wants to create more intelligent, autonomous and decentralised traffic management solutions that support operations in urban areas, from helicopters to drones. This will gradually pave the way for autonomous eVTOLs carrying passengers.
A key element is unmanned traffic management (UTM). For almost two years, the Altiscope project in┬áA┬│┬áhas been working with regulators and key stakeholders to define a clear picture of the future of traffic management, publishing the AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗« UTM roadmap called┬áBlueprint┬áfor the┬áSky┬áand┬ábecoming a Federal Aviation Administration Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) certified service provider. In December 2018, the Altiscope team transitioned from┬áA┬│ into the UAM unit to form AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗«┬áUTM.
ÔÇťThis vision laid out by Blueprint will guide our work for years to come,ÔÇŁ says del Pozo.┬áÔÇťOur team is carrying out projects across the public and private sector, and evaluating, for example, how all these different types of flying vehicles might interact sharing the same airspace.ÔÇŁ
Skyways, AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗«ÔÇÖ unmanned aerial vehicle designed for autonomous parcel deliveries, made its first flight demonstration today, validating its automatic loading and unloading capabilitiesRead more
AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗« isnÔÇÖt the only company looking to tap into the potential of urban air mobility. Joerg Mueller says there are now more than 100 different electric VTOL vehicles under development by ambitious start-ups and established global names.
ÔÇťBut AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗« has been building and certifying flying platforms to the highest levels of safety for decades. In some ways, building the vehicle for this market is the easier part,ÔÇŁ he says. ÔÇťGiven our credibility with authorities, passengers, potential partners, and our longstanding aerospace expertise, we are ideally positioned to bring disruptive end-to-end mobility solutions to the market.ÔÇŁ
To create an entirely new industry, dialogues and alliances across sectors are crucial, as is the active engagement of communities. In 2017, AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗« was appointed to lead the European CommissionÔÇÖs UAM Initiative, which is part of the wider┬áEuropean Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities┬á(EIP-SCC).
Managing the initiative┬áis Vassilis Agouridas, Senior Manager Strategic Innovation at AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗«.┬á"Our aim is to mobilise cities and regions across Europe along with a wide ecosystem of stakeholders interested in launching practical mobility demonstration projects with ground and air mobility"┬á"AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗« will act as the orchestrator and catalyst for a European community of urban air mobility.ÔÇŁ
There are currently 17 European cities on-board, with 12 projects under definition, ranging from an exploration of air taxi and drone ambulance use to how drones might benefit logistics hub or emergency services.
Urban air mobility is much more than technical solutions, though ÔÇô public acceptance is fundamental. ÔÇťBy planning the active involvement of citizens to become co-creators of future mobility solutions, we are aiming to shape the third dimension of mobility in a sustainable and socially acceptable manner,ÔÇŁ Agouridas says. ÔÇťThis is in addition to the┬áinitial involvement and support of political, regulatory┬áand┬ácivil aviation authorities,┬áas well as┬áother institutional┬átransport organisations. Ultimately, this is about our lives, how we move.ÔÇŁ
"Our aim is to mobilise cities and regions across Europe along with a wide ecosystem of stakeholders interested in launching practical mobility demonstration projects with ground and air mobility"
- Vassilis Agouridas, Senior Manager Strategic Innovation at AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗«
Three questions for Eduardo Dominguez Puerta ÔÇô Head of Urban Air Mobility
What have you been focusing on in the first few months of the UAM unit?
First of all, I have to say that the UAM team is an amazing set of talented individuals from across the company with a genuine drive to make a difference through our activities ÔÇô itÔÇÖs inspiring! My initial focus these last few months has been to align our various projects to a common strategy and set the right tempo. We are currently developing and testing our existing vehicle demonstrators, which will allow us to define a path for the future generation of vehicles. WeÔÇÖve consolidated all company-wide activities related to traffic management, are continuing to expand Voom, and are also very active in strengthening contacts with cities and partners.┬á
Have there been any major surprises?
ItÔÇÖs been eye-opening to see just how important it is to engage as early as possible with political authorities, cities, regulators and citizens. We tend to focus on the technologies, but sometimes we underestimate the importance of social policies, civil leadership, and those whom these technologies will ultimately benefit.
How would you define success in the short- to medium-term?
WeÔÇÖre moving ahead full speed to continue developing the technologies that we need to realise our vision with UAM, while engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure we deliver a mobility system that provides minimal environment impact and maximum societal benefit. LetÔÇÖs be clear: weÔÇÖre co-creating an entire industry from scratch! ThatÔÇÖs much bigger than vehicle technologies and any single company.┬á