Urban Air Mobility is Ready for Take-off
Time: 12-1pm EST
Laurie Garrow, Co-Director for the Center for Urban and Regional Air Mobility at Georgia Tech
Recent advancements in battery, distributed electric propulsion, and autonomy technologies are leading to the development of a new class of aircraft, commonly referred to as electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. These new eVTOL air taxis are expected to be safer, quieter, and less expensive to operate and maintain than existing vertical takeoff and landing aircraft such as helicopters. Urban air mobility (UAM) represents a disruptive new technology, particularly if information-enabled platforms such as ridesharing apps are used to connect operators with demand in real time. Never before has the potential for large-scale aerial operations within our cities been so real, as evidenced by the fact that in 2019 there were over 1,000 test flights of full-size eVTOL aircraft, and as of March 2020 at least 12 eVTOL aircraft were in the process of obtaining certification from the U.S.
In this presentation, we review ongoing research in UAM and present findings from a study we conducted that used location-based services data from cell phones to predict demand for a commuter air taxi service in 40 US cities. Results show that overall commuter demand is highly concentrated in three cities: New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC and that air taxis could provide more efficient transportation connections between communities that have been experiencing strong growth, such as in the northern Atlanta suburbs. We conclude with a discussion of research priorities that we envision are needed to help UAM come to fruition.