Dean Donovan on Deurbanization Rising: Covid-19, Remote Work And Electric Aviation Will Reshape Living Patterns
This article appeared first in Forbes and is shared on TransportUP with permission. Author Dean Donovan is the Co-Founder of Volaris, Mexico’s largest domestic carrier, current Chairman of Stellar Labs, a software company focused on global distribution technologies for private aviation, and Founder of DiamondStream Partners where he invests in aviation and travel businesses. Between 2006 and 2019, remote work expanded...
This article appeared first in Forbes and is shared on TransportUP with permission. Author Dean Donovan is the Co-Founder of Volaris, Mexico’s largest domestic carrier, current Chairman of Stellar Labs, a software company focused on global distribution technologies for private aviation, and Founder of DiamondStream Partners where he invests in aviation and travel businesses.
Between 2006 and 2019, remote work expanded 170% to the point where about 8% of people with jobs worked remotely. By August 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic helped drive that figure to 20%, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Global Workforce Analytics believes percentage of telecommuters will hit 25% to 30% by the end of 2021.
According to some surveys, 99% of employees who work remotely want to continue doing so at least to some extent. It is not surprising given the large cost savings for individuals and the perceived improvement in flexibility of working hours. Businesses themselves have a huge opportunity to save on real estate costs and 94% of employers believe the productivity of their workers has been stable or has increased working from home.
San Francisco and other dense urban centers have seen rents decline rapidly under this pressure while rents and housing prices in the suburbs have risen. The pandemic and the ease of videoconferencing applications like Zoom, BlueJeans and Microsoft MSFT -1.6% Teams helped to accelerate this trend, but electric aviation will lead to profound changes in the urban landscape in ways that few expect.
The Limits of Commuting by Automobile
The push and pull workers experience between urban core and the suburbs is nothing new. Bloomberg CityLab, argues that commuting technology has defined the shape of cities since the days of ancient Rome. Bloomberg argues that a subway- or streetcar-based city could support commutes from about 50 square miles of land whereas an automobile-based city could support commuters from over 1,250 square miles of land. As American cities became automobile-centric the supply of land increased up to 25 fold and made housing less expensive. In this sense, American suburbs exist because fast, low-cost transportation in the form of trains and then cars, developed that enable people to live at a distance, while still being connected to urban centers.
In some respects, nothing has changed. All other things being equal, housing prices (and land prices) tend to fall as distance from the urban core increases. America remains a relatively sparsely populated country with enormous amounts of cheap land. For the last 70 years, cars offered the most competitive form of transportation for commuters who want cheaper space and new electric vehicles like the Tesla Model3 will only make them more competitive. In 2016, 85.4% of people commuted to work via car and another 5% via public transportation. Walking, biking and working at home made up most of the rest. And why not? Despite the sustainability challenges ICE cars create and traffic on the daily commute, autos take relatively direct routes, are cheap at about $0.37/seat mile (at average occupancy of 1.67 passengers per vehicle), have high reliability and offer workers tremendous flexibility.
In other respects, everything has changed. By the time the pandemic started, auto-based transportation had begun to hit its limits with continually increasing congestion and lengthening commute times. Cars couldn’t drive fast enough and generated too much congestion to provide access to new undeveloped land in many urban areas. In response, urban planners saw increased density and public transportation as the solution.
The remote working world will tip the incentives back from proximity toward space. On the one hand, remote work creates more demand for space as people get tired of running meetings from their laundry room and businesses demand more professionalism from home. On the other hand, remote workers will receive less value from proximity to the office. If the commuter only needs to visit the office once or twice a week, his daily commute time and cost could double and he will still end up spending less time and money than if he had a daily commute. The only thing that is missing — a transportation mode that can move people faster than 60 miles per hour.
Hybrid-Electric Aircraft, The Car’s New Commuting Competitor
Few people have a daily commute to their office by air today. Big airports are too far from most homes and workplaces. It takes too much time in the airport and too much time in traffic to and from the airport to make them practical for commuters. For example, there are only five major commercial airports in the greater Los Angeles area while forty-three smaller airports are largely unused by commercial airlines. It can take an hour to drive from the center of Santa Monica to LAX in traffic, but less than 10 minutes to drive to Santa Monica Municipal Airport.
In addition, smaller aircraft that can fly into tertiary airports today cost too much to compete with cars for commuter traffic. Total costs for a Cessna Caravan could exceed 75 cents per seat mile to operate on a mid-range route. So, a thirty-mile flight could cost the carrier $22.50 (or more for such a short flight) for which they might charge $33 one-way to the passenger. This doesn’t include the cost of getting to the airport and then from the airport to work. Pretty expensive for a trip a car could make for about $11.
Finally, smaller aircraft often struggle to offer the kind of reliable service we take for granted from commercial aircraft like the Boeing 737.
All of these things are about to change with the introduction of hybrid-electric propulsion systems for light aircraft from companies like Verdego, Ampaire and VoltAero. Although estimates vary and a material difference in savings will exist between new aircraft designs and retrofits, hybrid-electric aircraft could take direct operating costs down by half and total operating cost down by a third. This could push the cost per average seat-mile (CASM) in a hybrid-electric aircraft into the $0.30 per seat mile range, below the cost to operate a car for the same distance.
While the thirty-mile commute will probably stay in the domain of cars as the physics of putting an aircraft in flight takes a lot of energy, hybrid-electric aircraft are compelling options for 50- to 150-mile commutes. These smaller aircraft offer the potential for more direct routings than commercial aircraft because they can fly into tertiary airports like Palo Alto in the Bay Area or Santa Monica in Los Angeles. Occasional commuters who only visit the office 1-2 times a week could find this particularly compelling.
Let’s compare the commute costs for Tracy, a potential air commuter location in California’s central valley, and Hayward, an East Bay suburb of San Francisco, to Palo Alto, California. The distance from Tracy to Palo Alto is roughly sixty miles. A one-way hybrid-electric plane trip could cost the airline $18 and the airline might charge $25. If you were commuting to the office twice a week, this would cost about $100/week. Add in another $40/week for the drive to the airport, parking and a car-share to work and the commuting bill is about $140/week. The distance from Hayward to Palo Alto is twenty-two miles. A daily car trip would cost the commuter about $81 a week in auto-related costs. Add in $10 parking a day and you have a commuting bill of about $131 a week. Fairly similar costs.
Commuters can get in and out of these airports quickly and they rarely suffer the kind of congestion that often delays flights in large commercial airports. With a ten-minute drive on each end, 20 minutes in the airport at smaller terminals, and a 30-minute total flight time the multi-modal commute from Tracy to Palo Alto is an hour each way without the variability of traffic. You would spend 4 hours and forty minutes commuting if you went to the office twice a week. Car traffic has high variability in times, but assuming the median time for the 22 miles morning commute from Hayward to Palo Alto, a commuter would spend an hour and twenty minutes in the car each day or six hours a week. Advantage aircraft.
New flight control systems from companies like Skyryse and others, will increase the reliability and safety of part 135 fixed wing aviation and should increasingly reflect the impressive safety record of commercial aviation. So, for the air commuter, the chances of delay and unpredictability should decline and safety should improve — a significant advantage of flying vs. driving.
The capping argument is of course the cost of space. It is always hard to compare housing costs in two different localities as distance from the urban core is not the only driver of housing pricing. Leaving aside the systemic studies of these issues (including the one listed above), a quick look at Zillow shows the average home value in Hayward is 27% more than in Tracy and the average home value in Palo Alto is 427% more than in Tracy.
The Network and the Implications
The continued growth of remote work and the availability of faster, lower-cost long-distance transit opens up the possibilities for longer-distance commutes with limited amounts of weekly travel time and cheaper housing. The remote workers, desperate to escape videoconferences in their laundry rooms, will want the space. Work could change materially with workplaces looking more like meeting hubs for people that gather from a larger region than a traditional office. These sorts of changes could make work relationships and social relationships more regional further driving aviation demand. As the flywheel starts to spin, people will start to spread out. Developers will build new style offices meant to permit in-person meetings close to tertiary airports making longer distance commutes easier.
College-educated workers, who work from home at almost double the national rate, will lead the way. You can already see evidence of this trend at the top end of the income scale even prior to the introduction of cheaper forms of air travel. As high income commuters move further from the urban core, they will pull service jobs with them. The movement will reduce congestion in urban areas, further reducing proximity benefits and creating property utilization issues in the urban core (much like the car did in the 1970s). These trends will put pressure on urban property values and rents and support suburban property values and rents. This trend is already evident during these first months of the pandemic when rents in thirty core cities have declined by 5% while suburban rents have increased by 0.5%.
These new ‘suburbs’ will look quite different from old. Fixed-wing commuter service will create a new kind of regional carrier – a super-sized Cape Air, if you will, with the scale to drive increased operating efficiency. These airlines will build operations around tertiary airports 50-150 miles from the major urban centers with high frequencies and upgraded terminal facilities. In a kind of reverse hubbing scenario, they will build scale in each regional tertiary airport by running routes to multiple airports in the urban center. They will fly smaller aircraft with high operational tempo and asset utilization and focus on low-cost operations because they will focus on serving people spending their own money to get to work.
How many people might this system move? It doesn’t seem unreasonable that 2-3% of the population could commute in this way medium term with a higher percentage over the longer term. 124mm people live in the largest metropolitan areas in the US, so this would imply 2.5MM to 3.7MM long distance air commuters. The Bay Area has 4.7MM residents. If two percent of the population commuted this way, it would represent 10% of all (current) remote workers and 94,600 air commuters total. At two round trips weekly per remote worker, the Bay Area would need close to 350 19 seat aircraft to support the commute. Airports operational tempo would likely represent the biggest bottleneck and perhaps noise could create issues for a reliable commuter service. A large number of fixed wing operations in a controlled airspace would probably also require advances in air traffic control, safety and aircraft reliability that support a commuting environment.
Nationally, if two to three percent of the workers in the top 20 metro areas commuted via air, it would create a $12-18B market for commuter air services. Once deployed at scale, this type of commuting model will lead to regional clustering of smaller cities connected by air to the urban centers and greater regional integration rather than the more contiguous development based on highway systems that we see today.
Yet, these trends will also leave many social questions uncertain and unanswered. Will these changes be jarring and disruptive? Or will these changes integrate smoothly to ease the significant social issues of congestion and housing affordability? Will this type of mobility transformation lead to greater integration of small-town and rural America into the urban core and vice versa? Or, will we see islands of prosperous gentrification in a sea of struggling rural and small-town communities? Will this transformation hollow out the urban core? Or, will it make the core stronger by broadening its catchment area? Will it increase geographical separation of college-educated knowledge workers and the rest of society or create greater social integration as elements of those groups move into historically less prosperous areas? Will it break up the power of technology hubs like Silicon Valley and financial hubs like New York or simply extend their reach? As the technology develops, we will have the opportunity to shape the answers to build a better society.
As electric aviation rises, our society will build on a long history of urban development to break the historical suburban paradigm and create a new kind of clustered regional development that reduces housing costs while increasing regional social cohesion.
The VerdeGo Aero team has successfully performed the first test runs of their “Iron Bird” prototype diesel-hybrid (Jet A fuel) generator system in early August. Full-power testing is now underway to accelerate development of VTOL and CTOL electric aircraft utilizing VerdeGo’s high-performance hybrid-electric powertrain to perform demanding commercial missions. VerdeGo Aero has now successfully performed its initial series of tests...
The VerdeGo Aero team has successfully performed the first test runs of their “Iron Bird” prototype diesel-hybrid (Jet A fuel) generator system in early August. Full-power testing is now underway to accelerate development of VTOL and CTOL electric aircraft utilizing VerdeGo’s high-performance hybrid-electric powertrain to perform demanding commercial missions.
VerdeGo Aero has now successfully performed its initial series of tests to validate the Iron Bird system at power output levels above 150KW. This ground-based development hardware, built around the certified Continental CD-265 high efficiency diesel aviation engine, is being used for testing to refine the weight, power output, cooling systems, and reliability of the conformal hybrid systems now being engineered for aerospace customers. The VerdeGo hybrid generator can be combined with battery packs to enable peak power output up to 0.5MW and modular twin generator systems can be stacked for 360KW continuous and 1MW peak output.
VerdeGo’s hybrid power systems are applicable to numerous next-generation electric aircraft markets including: vertical takeoff and landing urban air mobility vehicles (eVTOL), short takeoff and landing (eSTOL), and conventional takeoff and landing (eCTOL) aircraft. Both passenger and cargo aircraft in manned and unmanned configurations are supported by VerdeGo’s hybrid powertrain. Their diesel-hybrid system runs on globally-available Jet-A fuel consuming around 40% less fuel than competing turbine-hybrid offerings, while providing between four and eight times the endurance of competing battery-only powertrains. Compatibility with Jet A also means the VerdeGo hybrid is compatible with the bio-Jet substitute fuels under development.
“Getting the Iron Bird running not only validates the operating economics of our diesel-hybrid power generation system, it also enables us to perform hardware-in-the-loop simulations using mission profiles from our airframe customers”, says David Eichstedt, Director of Advanced Concepts. “It’s a powerful way for customers to validate the economics of their aircraft designs value proposition using real powertrain hardware without leaving the ground.” For interested parties willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement, VerdeGo is able to provide the equivalent of a traditional engine deck. This proprietary software utilizes data from the full-scale hardware testing and includes a hybrid simulation model for airframers to use that includes both the hybrid generator and the battery solution that goes with it.
Chief Executive Officer Eric Bartsch says, “VerdeGo Aero is positioned to offer the most efficient, most cost effective, low emissions hybrid system for demanding commercial aviation missions. Our Iron Bird is demonstrating the hardware platform that will power aircraft requiring up to 1MW of peak power using our highly efficient generator systems and world-class battery pack technologies.”
Why it’s important: VerdeGo’s hybrid systems provide significantly more mission capabilities than battery-packs while substantially reducing fuel consumption, emissions, operating cost, and noise when compared to turbine hybrids. The operational testing of VerdeGo’s Iron Bird is a significant step towards enabling its customers to create more competitive electric aircraft, and could provide new manufacturers with the necessary technology to commercialize aerial mobility services.
Source // VerdeGo Aero press release
Volansi, a Silicon Valley-backed startup specializing in middle-mile drone delivery services, announces it has begun a commercial healthcare drone delivery project in North Carolina. In collaboration with Merck, known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada, Volansi is piloting the delivery of cold chain medicines from Merck’s Wilson, N.C. manufacturing site to Vidant Healthplex-Wilson, a Vidant Health clinic, as the first...
Volansi, a Silicon Valley-backed startup specializing in middle-mile drone delivery services, announces it has begun a commercial healthcare drone delivery project in North Carolina.
In collaboration with Merck, known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada, Volansi is piloting the delivery of cold chain medicines from Merck’s Wilson, N.C. manufacturing site to Vidant Healthplex-Wilson, a Vidant Health clinic, as the first of three phases in a project to learn about drone technology’s role and ability to improve access to healthcare.
With 1.4 million people across 29 counties, eastern North Carolina’s vast, rural environment can create challenges for accessing care. Initial flights in the project resulted in the first drone delivery of temperature-controlled medicines within the U.S. In response to these topographical challenges, Volansi will utilize its VOLY C10, an all-electric drone capable of carrying 10-pounds of cargo to locations up to 50 miles away. The VOLY C10’s vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) system allows it to deliver fragile cargo with a “soft touch” automated release once the drone has landed at the delivery location. The VTOL system also requires minimal infrastructure to operate and is also capable of delivering on the returning flight items to support order confirmation like temperature trackers and shipping confirmation.
“As a healthcare leader, Merck is very supportive of collaborations using new technologies to explore how one day we could help better serve the healthcare community. Our existing distribution system is strong, and this pilot helps us explore new innovative delivery options that would complement our existing supply chain capabilities,” said Craig Kennedy, Senior Vice President, Global Supply Chain Management, Merck.
Volansi is also collaborating with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program and the North Carolina Department of Transportation to ensure that its deliveries are made safely and in accordance with state and federal guidelines. The company is simultaneously seeking approval from the FAA to provide deliveries in additional locations, for phases two and three of the project, enabling a flexible, on-demand, and responsive supply of critical medicines.
As stated by Volansi CEO and Co- Founder Hannan Parvizian, “We are at the cusp of an exciting new endeavor. As we seek FAA approval to expand the project’s scope to additional delivery locations, our vision for a world where everybody has ready access to life-saving medical supplies is becoming clearer by the day.”
Why it’s important: Merck and Volansi have had many collaborations across the years, including an initiative to deliver temperature-sensitive medicines in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico after the devastation of hurricanes Maria and Florence. Although only a first step, these demonstrations foreshadow the potential for players in the rising aerial mobility industry to redefine the biopharmaceutical supply chain of the future. Recently, companies such as Falck have already made public their intention to establish VTOL emergency response efforts with unmanned drone programs. Ultimately, these programs will be able to get paramedics to the scene of an emergency faster than ever.
Source // Volansi press release
Transportation, research, and government-based partners in Canada have created a Vancouver-based consortium to accelerate the implementation of electric and hydrogen powered vertical takeoff flight in Canada. The future of flight in Canada has taken a major step forward with the launch of the Vancouver-based Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM), a multi-stakeholder group that will streamline research, development and commercial...
Transportation, research, and government-based partners in Canada have created a Vancouver-based consortium to accelerate the implementation of electric and hydrogen powered vertical takeoff flight in Canada.
The future of flight in Canada has taken a major step forward with the launch of the Vancouver-based Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM), a multi-stakeholder group that will streamline research, development and commercial operations in the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) sector, globally recognized as the next frontier of commercial aviation. AAM involves the use of zero-emission, electric or hydrogen fuel cells, and vertical takeoff aircraft to provide transportation, emergency, and supply chain services for urban and rural communities. CAAM cites the many benefits of these aircraft as increased maneuverability, less need for ground infrastructure (airport runways), less aircraft noise, reduced fossil fuel consumption, lower costs, shorter travel times and improved safety.
Initiated and created by Canadian Air Mobility and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), there are currently more than twenty partners involved in the national effort. CAAM’s key members include TransLink, Helijet International, British Columbia Institute of Technology, the University of British Columbia, Bell Textron, Iskwew Air, and many of Canada’s leading aerospace stakeholders.
“We’ve established an outstanding group of strategic members to support the design, integration, and implementation of Advanced Air Mobility in Canada,” said JR Hammond, Founder & CEO, Canadian Air Mobility and Executive Director, CAAM. “We look forward to demonstrating the economic viability, environmental benefits and social inclusivity factors of this technology and making Canada a world leader in AAM. To that end, we welcome additional members who share our vision that AAM provides the path toward a safer, healthier, and more efficient mode of transportation.”
In addition to providing transportation within urban and rural areas, AAM aircraft will play a critical life-saving role in emergency response situations by enabling faster air transportation of medical supplies, blood, donor organs, or patients to and from hospitals. It will also improve the emergency response and assessment of natural disasters such as floods and wildfires.
According to the CAAM, factors making the Greater Vancouver Area a promising AAM market include: a strong aviation infrastructure base; an existing scheduled helicopter service, with heliports in Vancouver and nearby Victoria and Nanaimo; numerous science and transportation research facilities; the Province of British Columbia and City of Vancouver’s commitment to the decarbonization of transportation; and the Pacific Northwest’s Cascadia corridor (Vancouver-Seattle-Portland), as one of the busiest routes for the movement of goods and people between Canada and the United States.
Among the CAAM’s objectives are to create an AAM innovation hub to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow their technology from a low technology readiness level (TRL) to certification and commercialization, while also expanding the AAM sector’s connections to regulators, manufacturers, aviation operators, infrastructure developers, academia, industry, and governments in Canada and internationally.
“The National Research Council of Canada is proud to be a part of the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility (CAAM) consortium since the start,” said Dr. Ibrahim Yimer, the NRC’s Vice-President of Transportation and Manufacturing. “We look forward to working with our 20 partners who are lending their expertise in the Advanced Air Mobility industry to decarbonize transportation, and create more efficient ways of moving people, goods and services and support more socially connected and integrated communities.”
According to the CAAM, the future of the new era in aviation will ultimately mean faster Medi-vac services, upwards of 4.2 million AAM travelers over the next 20 years, traveling between downtown Seattle and downtown Vancouver in 1 hour versus 3, expanding connections in remote communities and most importantly, creating new jobs.
For more information, the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility has provided public access to its white paper which elaborates on AAM’s missions and services for the Greater Vancouver Area, the Advanced Air Mobility Industry, and the importance as well as why Vancouver was selected to be the first region in Canada. In addition, CAAM hosts a quarterly Digital Open House that provides the public with an opportunity to connect with current stakeholders and learn more about the progress of AAM work in Canada. Visit the CAAM’s website here for details.
Why it’s important: The launch of a new aerial mobility initiative in the Vancouver area signifies the global capacity of this new generation of transportation. The CAAM will be a resource and ally to many of the Canada-based companies striving to make an impact on the manufacturing or commercial operation of new aerial mobility vehicles. The CAAM also mirrors a similar initiative – the Seattle-based Community Air Mobility Initiative (CAMI) – which seeks to garner public support of urban air mobility as the technology and regulations progress. CAMI intends to support the responsible integration of urban air mobility (UAM) into communities through education, communication, and advocacy; it recently announced its launch with the support of its founding members, including aircraft manufacturers Bell and Joby Aviation, as well as non-profit organizations such as the NBAA. Both the CAAM and CAMI have similar aspirations for the aerial mobility industry and, given their close geographical proximity, could very well collaborate on the advancement of R&D and commercialization efforts.
Source // Helijet International; CAAM press release
Kilowatt is currently selling its “EcoMax” helicopters with a traditional power plant and a guarantee to retrofit the rotorcraft with an Electric Power Unit (EPU) at no charge once it has been awarded its Supplemental Type Certificate (“STC”). Eco Helicopters is working with Kilowatt Aviation to bring what it calls the “EcoMax”, an electrified version of the ubiquitous Robinson R44...
Kilowatt is currently selling its “EcoMax” helicopters with a traditional power plant and a guarantee to retrofit the rotorcraft with an Electric Power Unit (EPU) at no charge once it has been awarded its Supplemental Type Certificate (“STC”).
Eco Helicopters is working with Kilowatt Aviation to bring what it calls the “EcoMax”, an electrified version of the ubiquitous Robinson R44 light helicopter, to the market. Kilowatt’s goal with the EcoMax is to merge operational aspects of traditional helicopter air taxi services with the on-demand surface transport model pioneered by Uber and others. The company has also managed to match the performance of the conventional R44, while decreasing its noise-inducing vibrations and potentially extending its airframe/drivetrain fatigue-life.
The timeline for Kilowatt to obtain a type certification for the electrified R44 could be as short as 18 months given the relatively simple procedure of swapping the powerplant. In the meantime, and potentially starting in 2021, Eco Helicopters would operate the conventional R44 on routes around the LA area, to and from heliports and airports, as current charter helicopter services do. the operator is already a Part-135 FAA-approved passenger service provider (since 2007) and would work inside the current regulatory and commercial landscape. In doing so, it could be the first eVTOL provider to market with a largely familiar and proven business model.
Kilowatt originally began the electrification of the R44 to quickly transport organs for transplant that are being developed by United Therapeutics subsidiary Lung Biotechnology. However, United Therapeutics CEO Martine Rothblatt has seemingly redirected her focus and has made substantial investments in startup Beta Technologies, the Vermont-based developer of the Alia-250 eVTOL air taxi.
Why it’s important: The approach by Eco Helicopters represents the most direct-to-market strategy for on demand eVTOL flight. Although more complicated aircraft designs will have their advantages, they may takes decades to fully develop and certify. In the meantime, by simply swapping out the power plant on an existing aircraft, Eco Helicopters and Kilowatt Aviation may make themselves one of the first eVTOL service providers in the world. Other companies including BLADE Urban Air Mobility and Skyryse have had recent success with similar strategies, by applying proven and certified helicopters to the new aerial mobility business model of short point-to-point urban flights.
Hyundai is partnering with Incheon International Airport Corp., Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. and KT Corp. to accelerate the development of Urban Air Mobility and conduct test flights. “The breadth and depth of this partnership shows what it will take to build a comprehensive UAM ecosystem to serve megacities like Seoul. Building a robust infrastructure and business model is just...
Hyundai is partnering with Incheon International Airport Corp., Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. and KT Corp. to accelerate the development of Urban Air Mobility and conduct test flights.
“The breadth and depth of this partnership shows what it will take to build a comprehensive UAM ecosystem to serve megacities like Seoul. Building a robust infrastructure and business model is just as important as developing innovative UAM vehicles. This partnership demonstrates Hyundai’s commitment to facilitating progress for humanity by ushering in a new era of urban air mobility that will revolutionize transportation.” – Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President and Head of Urban Air Mobility Division at Hyundai Motor
In June 2020, the Korean government announced the Korean UAM Roadmap, outlining steps needed to commercialize UAM. Hyundai Motor and its partners will align with the roadmap that includes the Korean UAM Grand Challenge, the public-private joint demonstration project that provides the basis for jointly studying the construction and operation of vertiports, airports for UAMs. Hyundai’s vision for the commercialization of UAM is ultimately based on three interconnected mobility solutions:
With this smart mobility vision built around the UAM-PBV-Hub network, Hyundai has outlined its commitment to provide customers seamless mobility and a differentiated mobility experience. The vision is also in line with the company’s mid-term innovation plan ‘Strategy 2025’ to shift to its business structures based on two pillars – ‘Smart Mobility Device’ and ‘Smart Mobility Service’. “UAM, PBV, and Hub will revitalize cities by removing urban boundaries, giving people time to pursue their goals, and creating a diverse community,” according to Euisun Chung, Executive Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group.
Hyundai’s SA-1 concept personal air vehicle (PAV) has been developed in collaboration with Uber Elevate and is designed with cost and noise reduction in mind in order to attract early customers, while also keeping safety as a key focus. The company plans to strengthen its partnerships with global companies like Uber and accelerate its UAM business, including developing world-class PAVs, offering fleet service and maintenance, and developing skyports.
The concept PAV is equipped with eVTOL and designed to seat five people, including a pilot. The PAV will be operated initially by a pilot during the early stages of commercialization and enable autonomous operation once the relevant technologies are developed. Hyundai plans to continue the development of the SA-1 in addition to supplementary models capable of both intercity and intracity transit, which Shin expects to be ready for commercial applications by 2028. The video below captures Hyundai’s plan for integrating its eVTOL in to the UAM-PBV-Hub network with the goal of providing a “Smart Mobility Solution” for Human-Centered Cities:
Meanwhile, the newly established partnership with Incheon International Airport Corp., Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. and KT Corp. will focus on establishing the infrastructure and studying feasibility of utilizing UAM as airport shuttles. Hyundai Construction will utilize its expertise to build vertiports as well as the transit hub that will connect UAM to other public transportations. KT will set up the communications infrastructure and make business cases for UAM as a mobility service. All four parties will be sharing necessary information during the development as well as jointly working on test flights.
Why it’s important: Hyundai benefits from having a global sales network and units that can provide services and assist in the early stages of infrastructure development for an aerial-vehicle ecosystem. Additionally, as an automaker accustomed to manufacturing millions of units per year, Hyundai has a competitive edge over new startups and established aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus.
Image/Content Credit // Hyundai press release
Volocopter has made two major announcements this week with regards to the development of its aerial mobility service as well as the testing of its electric air taxi, the VoloCity. The company has teamed with Groupe ADP and RATP Groupe to be the first industrial player to test their full-scale electrical air taxi, the VoloCity, in the Paris Region. Additionally,...
Volocopter has made two major announcements this week with regards to the development of its aerial mobility service as well as the testing of its electric air taxi, the VoloCity. The company has teamed with Groupe ADP and RATP Groupe to be the first industrial player to test their full-scale electrical air taxi, the VoloCity, in the Paris Region. Additionally, Volocopter and Japan Airlines (JAL) entered into a cooperation agreement to promote UAM development for next generation air transportation options of passengers and goods.
The agreement outlines that Volocopter and JAL work on permanent sustainable commercial operations of air taxis in Japan. By establishing local partnerships, jointly approaching Japanese cities and prefectures and working on market demand and social acceptance, JAL and Volocopter will prepare for commercial launch in Japan within the next 3 years. JAL will provide their in-depth knowledge accumulated via safe aircraft operation experience to a next-generation air mobility operation platform service. In addition, through air mobility services, JAL aims to deliver medical care in remote areas to achieve key sustainable development goals.
JAL, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, and MS&AD InterRisk Research & Consulting, who are all invested in Volocopter, also announced a collaboration to accelerate Volocopters entry into the Japanese Market. The collaboration of airline operator, insurance provider, and business development partners as well as an Urban Air Mobility pioneer makes this approach a sustainable and promising one.
Meanwhile, Volocopter’s agreement with Paris region, Groupe ADP and RATP Groupe has promising implications in the current context of environmental transition in air transport, economic recovery, and urban densification. The two have decided to bring together all the conditions to make the emergence of this new mode of transport possible to complement the existing modes, whether for the public or for goods.
“The structuring and development of an Air Mobility branch on the airfield of Pontoise – Cormeilles-en-Vexin is both consistent with the Recovery Plan initiated by Paris Region, and in line with the key takeaways of Paris Region recent COP 2020 conference. It also falls within the scope and priorities of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic games. As a result, this event represents an invaluable opportunity to involve the entire Aviation Industry and demonstrate the unique qualities of Paris Region as an area of reference within the global Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market,” according to Valérie Pécresse, President of Paris Region.
“Today, we aim at exploring and enabling the development of all potential futures of a decarbonized and innovative aviation,” noted Edward Arkwright, Deputy CEO of Groupe ADP. “Urban Air Mobility, driven by an all-electric vehicle capable of a vertical takeoff and landing, will be able to take-off and accelerate its development through the establishment of a sandbox at our Pontoise airfield, a unique testing opportunity in Europe. In partnership with Paris Region and RATP group, and in the framework of an international call for expression of interest, we are strongly positioned to federate a unique ecosystem in Paris Region, by combining our infrastructures assets, our know-how and expertise in terms of mobility and our territorial anchoring.”
Why it’s important: The prospect of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games provides an exceptional opportunity to involve an entire industry and to make Paris Region a leader in the global market of Urban Air Mobility. Volocopter, the German electric air taxi company, reinforces the project’s feasibility by bringing its 9 years of aviation experience to the initiative. Simultaneously, the expansion in to operations with JAL is demonstrative of the company’s growing list of industry partners, and its strong reputation. As one of the most punctual major international airlines and a certified 5-Star Airline by Skytrax, JAL is committed to providing customers with the highest levels of flight safety and quality in every aspect of its service, and believes Volocopter can assist in carrying out its mission.
Source // Volocopter press release
Chinese EV maker XPeng has displayed a prototype of its single-seat flying car at the 2020 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, showing off eight propellers and a capsule-like frame. According to XPeng Motors, “electrically driven urban air-enabled multi-dimensional transport will be an integral part of the future mobility ecosystem. Xpeng is exploring this area in the course of its development of fully...
Chinese EV maker XPeng has displayed a prototype of its single-seat flying car at the 2020 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, showing off eight propellers and a capsule-like frame.
According to XPeng Motors, “electrically driven urban air-enabled multi-dimensional transport will be an integral part of the future mobility ecosystem. Xpeng is exploring this area in the course of its development of fully integrated and comprehensive mobility solutions for tomorrow’s cities.”
The vehicle, named the Kiwigogo, can carry up to two passengers and is designed to fly in low-altitude space, between 16 and 82 feet (5 to 25 meters) from the ground. XPeng explained that the Kiwigogo is in its seventh year of development and has 15 proprietary intellectual property rights and roughly 10,000 safety tests have already been conducted. However, XPeng CEO He Xiaopeng says that the flying car is unlikely to be commercialized by XPeng as part of its current offerings.
“Xpeng’s efforts in the electric air-enabled mobility space will remain focused on R&D and experimental designs for the present,” the Guangzhou-based company said, adding that it does not expect impact on its current business. “Xpeng will evaluate prospects in the space in details before proceeding with any substantial investment in this area.”
Why it’s important: XPeng’s recent successful IPO and Series C+ financing further enhances the Company’s commitment and credibility in providing Smart EV transport for the future. This funding, in combination with its success in the automotive sector, could provide a strong base for the company to continue the development of its Kiwigogo air vehicle and other aerial mobility options in the future.
Sources // XPeng; South China Morning Post
“Be the first to fly with an electric air taxi,” Volocopter advertised as it announced the commencement of the world’s first public sale for electrical air taxi flight reservations. As of today, September 16th, Volocopter fans world-wide can reserve their tickets online and be amongst the very first to take this new form of mobility. Volocopter revealed the initiative at...
“Be the first to fly with an electric air taxi,” Volocopter advertised as it announced the commencement of the world’s first public sale for electrical air taxi flight reservations.
As of today, September 16th, Volocopter fans world-wide can reserve their tickets online and be amongst the very first to take this new form of mobility. Volocopter revealed the initiative at the Greentech Festival in Berlin, and has made 1000 presale reservations available for a limited time. The “VoloFirst” costs €300 and can be reserved with a 10% deposit. With the reservation, passengers will receive the following:
- A flight with a duration of approx. 15 minutes (approx.) scheduled within the first 12 months after commercial launch
- A video of the passenger’s flight
- A limited edition, personalized certificate included in reservation
The announcement follows Volocopter’s successful demonstration flights in Stuttgart, at Helsinki’s international airport, and over Singapore’s Marina Bay. “Based on our public test flights and regulatory achievement record, we have paved the way to make electric flight in cities common in just a few years. With the start of reservations, we now invite our supporters and innovators around the world to join us and be amongst the first to experience this new and exciting form of mobility,” said Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter. The reservations for the first VoloCity flights are available world-wide on the Volocopter Reservation Platform.
Why it’s important: Volocopter is working to build the world’s first sustainable and scalable urban air mobility business to bring affordable air taxi services to megacities worldwide. The VoloCity, its fully electric “eVTOL” aircraft, has already begun the certification process in order to safely and quietly transport passengers within cities. Volocopter’s outspoken goal is to ‘Bring Urban Air Mobility to Life’ and has made significant headway in conjunction with its partners in infrastructure, operations, and air traffic management to build the necessary ecosystem. The early commercialization of its technology through limited reservation flights will serve as a funding mechanism for continued development of its technology as well as for the certification process. As an added benefit, the strategically limited supply of flights may increase publicity of the offering and ultimately result in an impactful marketing effort for the company.
- Volocopter Selects Diehl Aerospace for its Flight Computers
- Dr. Arnaud Coville Named new Volocopter CTO
Source // Volocopter press release
Just days after Amazon Prime Air has received FAA approval for drone deliveries, Walmart has initiated a program with Flytrex for its own drone delivery service. Upon announcing the new initiative, Walmart looked back on a quote from founder Sam Walton: “I have always been driven to buck the system, to innovate, to take things beyond where they’ve been.” It remains...
Just days after Amazon Prime Air has received FAA approval for drone deliveries, Walmart has initiated a program with Flytrex for its own drone delivery service.
Upon announcing the new initiative, Walmart looked back on a quote from founder Sam Walton: “I have always been driven to buck the system, to innovate, to take things beyond where they’ve been.” It remains a guiding principle at Walmart to this day, according to the company. “From being an early pioneer of universal bar codes and electronic scanning cash registers to our work on autonomous vehicle delivery, we’re working to understand how these technologies can impact the future of our business and help us better serve our customers.”
“Our latest initiative has us exploring how drones can deliver items in a way that’s convenient, safe, and – you guessed it – fast. Today, we’re taking the next step in our exploration of on-demand delivery by announcing a new pilot with Flytrex, an end-to-end drone delivery company.”
The pilot program launched as of September 9th in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and focuses on delivering select grocery and household essential items from Walmart stores using Flytrex’s automated drones. The drones, which are controlled over the cloud using a smart and easy control dashboard, will help us gain valuable insight into the customer and associate experience, from picking and packing to takeoff and delivery. The announcement of Walmart’s new program accompanies various other recent efforts as the U.S. retailer looks to bolster its delivery business.
Why it’s important:
In a press release, Walmart acknowledged the long road ahead; “we know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone. That still feels like a bit of science fiction, but we’re at a point where we’re learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers’ lives easier. Take for example our autonomous vehicle work with Gatik, Ford and Nuro – we’ve gained loads of valuable insight into how autonomous vehicles fit within our business.”
Ultimately, it’s learnings from pilots such as this that will help shape the potential of drone delivery on a larger scale and expand Walmart beyond its reputation as a company specializing in in-store shopping. Fortunately, Amazon’s Prime Air business arm has begun to pave the way for certification with its official Part 135 approval to begin operating commercial deliveries on a trial basis.
Source // Walmart press release
Exactly 112 years after the Wright Brothers delivered their first military aircraft, top Air Force leaders gathered with their Texas National Guard hosts and AFWERX personnel to watch the first Agility Prime ORB flight demonstration. Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass came together to witness the...
Exactly 112 years after the Wright Brothers delivered their first military aircraft, top Air Force leaders gathered with their Texas National Guard hosts and AFWERX personnel to watch the first Agility Prime ORB flight demonstration.
Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass came together to witness the advances in electric vertical takeoff and landing flight (eVTOL) at Camp Mabry, Aug. 20.
The demonstration was presented by LIFT Aircraft, a Texas-based Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract recipient, as one of the first companies of its size to join the Agility Prime “Air Race to Certification.” LIFT’s Hexa is a short distance single-seater eVTOL designed to work much like shared scooter systems in urban areas do today. Users will be able to fly Hexa between landing ports in urban areas, guided by instructions from a mobile app. Hexa is designed to take off and land autonomously, making the flight experience seamless. LIFT plans on initially launching in 25 U.S citizens, and is already taking pre-sale reservations.
The event was the first time the service had witnessed a manned eVTOL aircraft take flight under its Agility Prime program, it said on 21 August. Agility Prime is a non-traditional program seeking to accelerate the commercial market for advanced air mobility vehicles. The USAF’s initiative presents an opportunity to exchange government resources in for knowledge transfer, aerial demonstration flights, and potential buyouts of various aerial mobility companies that elect to participate.
“Agility Prime is a program with a vision of world impact,” Barrett said during the program’s launch in April 2020. “The thought of an electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle — a flying car — might seem straight out of a Hollywood movie, but by partnering today with stakeholders across industries and agencies, we can set up the United States for this aerospace phenomenon.”
“We now have over fifteen of the leading aircraft manufacturers in the world applying to partner with Agility Prime, with many of them already on contract,” said Col. Nathan Diller, AFWERX director and Agility Prime lead. “This flight today marks the first of many demonstrations and near term flight tests designed to reduce the technical risk and prepare for Agility Prime fielding in 2023.”
Why it’s important:
The Agility Prime program is the flagship eVTOL program for the USAF, as an increasing number of military organizations across the world become more and more interested in applications of aerial mobility technology as supplemental (and eventually in replacement of) current mobility offerings for both manned and unmanned missions.
In addition to the USAF, the US Army is examining eVTOL aircraft as a means to resupply troops, as well as provide combat search and rescue. The autonomous flying ability of the aircraft would allow the services to keep human pilots out of danger on certain missions. USAF’s Agility Prime initiative, and the successful Lift HEXA flight demonstration, are providing excellent exposure for emerging aerial mobility technologies and manufacturers. Ultimately, this has a high potential for these new startup companies to secure new contracts across both the military and commercial sectors.
Source // USAF (AFWERX Public Affairs)
Vertical Aerospace, a prevalent UK-based eVTOL developer, has just released its long-awaited new air taxi design. The company advertises that its new vehicle will be able to “reduce your journey time by over 80% and eliminate air pollution by flying above the traffic.” According to Vertical Aerospace, the VA-1X will soon be taken through certification with EASA in Europe, and...
Vertical Aerospace, a prevalent UK-based eVTOL developer, has just released its long-awaited new air taxi design. The company advertises that its new vehicle will be able to “reduce your journey time by over 80% and eliminate air pollution by flying above the traffic.”
According to Vertical Aerospace, the VA-1X will soon be taken through certification with EASA in Europe, and is on course to start commercial flights in 2024.
The VA-1X has been designed to be a high performing aircraft, able to connect entire regions as well as carrying out shorter missions across single cities. Capable of carrying up to five people, a pilot and four passengers, Vertical hopes for the VA-1X to be the world’s first certified winged all-electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Build will begin shortly, with manufacturing taking place in the UK near Vertical’s headquarters in Bristol.
With the redesign of its vehicle, Vertical has placed an emphasis on the principles of safety, experience, sustainability, noise reduction, and range. The new design is a substantial departure from Vertical’s previous design, the Seraph, which employed twelve overhead propellers in a multi-rotor fashion to lift a maximum of 550 lbs at speeds up to 50 mph. Shifting toward a far more efficient design with vectored thrust and numerous control surfaces, Vertical has chosen to undertake a more complicated project that will prove difficult to certify, but may have more transport applications than their previous aircraft design.
The VA-1X will feature a 150 mph with a useable range of up to 100 miles, meaning passengers could travel from London to Brighton in approximately half an hour, compared to two hours driving, or an hour by train. It will be completely emissions-free, and certified to the same safety standards as traditional commercial jetliners. Vertical expects initial flight prices to fall somewhere in between a private car trip and a chartered helicopter flight.
The mission of Vertical’s air taxi is to connect entire regions as well as carrying out shorter missions across single cities. The VA-1X is optimized for longer-range flights to take full advantage of the tilt-rotor’s efficient cruise, and its design also fits the “common reference models” released by the Uber in 2017 to help manufacturers meet their ecosystem’s design requirements. However, the two have not made public any discussion on collaboration at this time. Head of Uber Elevate, Eric Allison, responded to the Twitter reveal with positive support, so the stage has been set for a potential partnership down the line as Vertical progresses with a physical manifestation of the aircraft.
Said Michael Cervenka, CEO, Vertical Aerospace:
“eVTOL technology will revolutionize travel, combining the safety of commercial airlines with the disruptive environmental and cost benefits of the electrification of flight. With the launch of the VA-1X, we’re proud to be taking eVTOL one step
closer to mass-market adoption, and supporting the next era of aviation. At Vertical Aerospace we believe that people should be able to quickly and affordably get from A to B without sacrificing the planet – with the VA-1X, this vision will start to be realized in under five years.”
Why it’s important: With no physical prototype yet constructed, Vertical recognizes that it must move quickly to gain EASA type certification and production approval for the VA-1X in support of beginning commercial operations by 2024. To support this timeline, the company plans to forgo sub-scale prototyping and move straight to a full-scale build of the aircraft — with testing of individual systems, such as propellers. Fortunately, suppliers including Honeywell and Dassault Systems’ cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE have already been working with Vertical as its development program nears the manufacturing phase.
- Vertical Aerospace eVTOL to be Equipped with Latest Honeywell Flight Deck Technology
- Vertical Aerospace Selects 3DEXPERIENCE for Product Lifecycle Management
Source // Vertical Aerospace; Aviation Today
In the coming weeks, we can expect to see a full-scale prototype of Vertical Aerospace’s latest electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft fly for the first time. The company has been quietly conducting advanced research and development on its vehicle, while simultaneously securing more publicly-announced partnerships with Honeywell and Dassault. Just last week, Vertical Aerospace shared a sneak-peek of...
In the coming weeks, we can expect to see a full-scale prototype of Vertical Aerospace’s latest electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft fly for the first time. The company has been quietly conducting advanced research and development on its vehicle, while simultaneously securing more publicly-announced partnerships with Honeywell and Dassault.
Just last week, Vertical Aerospace shared a sneak-peek of its new aircraft design. Judging from the images, the vehicle can be expected to utilize four propellers in a tilt-wing configuration, as well as a v-tail configuration for stability and control. Honeywell, as recently announced, will supply the multitouch displays, avionics system controls, avionics software and vehicle operating system.
— Honeywell Aerospace (@Honeywell_Aero) August 11, 2020
With regards to the announcement, Michael Cervenka, CEO of Vertical Aerospace said, “Vertical is well advanced in the development of its next-generation, high-performance, passenger-carrying vehicle. We are excited at the prospect of broadening our partnership with Honeywell, enabling our vehicles to leverage not only Honeywell’s flight control systems, but also to marry these with the very latest in intuitive and safe flight deck technologies.”
The upcoming aircraft is predicted to be capable of carrying a pilot and four passengers up to 100 miles at speeds of up to 240km/h.
Last year, the Bristol-based startup revealed flight footage of an electric vertical take off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) capable of carrying loads of up to 250kg – the first company in the world to do so. The prototype, named Seraph, completed its maiden flight at Llanbedr Airfield in Wales on August 22, 2019.
Vertical plans to operate the Seraph (featured above) itself, in addition to the new aircraft to be announced. The company has already flown two full-scale prototypes of the Seraph at a maximum speed of 80km/h and with a payload of 250kg. Last year, Honeywell supplied Vertical’s demonstration aircraft with its Compact Fly-By-Wire System and flight control software, so the two already have collaboration experience.
Why it’s important: The announcement of new contracts and strategic aerial mobility partnerships – including Vertical Aerospace, and in general – signals promising forward momentum in the UAM industry. The unveiling of the upcoming new aircraft from Vertical is eagerly awaited and will mark a large milestone for Vertical Aerospace and Honeywell, as it will showcase technologies that we may expect to see implemented in other aerial mobility vehicles. This partnership will also serve as an opportunity for eVTOL aircraft manufacturers to witness Honeywell’s technologies in a physical prototype and evaluate whether they will adopt Honeywell’s specific features in their own eVTOL prototype designs. Honeywell, in return, has much industry reputation to gain from Vertical Aerospace’s unveiling of the upcoming aircraft, as the supplier could potentially earn itself several new contracts following an impressive vehicle demonstration.
- Vertical Aerospace Confirms Partnership with Honeywell
- Honeywell Releases Their New Compact Fly-By-Wire System for UAM
- Listen to the TransportUP Podcast Interview with Vertical Aerospace CEO Michael Cervenka
Source // Honeywell; AINOnline
Bell Textron Inc. unveiled today its new 140,000-square-foot Manufacturing Technology Center (MTC) in Fort Worth, Texas. The MTC is an innovative proving ground where Bell will test and refine technologies and processes—demonstrating manufacturing readiness and ability to successfully build and support Future Vertical Lift (FVL) aircraft. The facility provides capabilities that span all of Bell’s core manufacturing of rotor and drive systems,...
Bell Textron Inc. unveiled today its new 140,000-square-foot Manufacturing Technology Center (MTC) in Fort Worth, Texas. The MTC is an innovative proving ground where Bell will test and refine technologies and processes—demonstrating manufacturing readiness and ability to successfully build and support Future Vertical Lift (FVL) aircraft. The facility provides capabilities that span all of Bell’s core manufacturing of rotor and drive systems, critical infrastructure and final assembly.
Since establishing a footprint in North Texas in 1951, Bell’s facilities have been a hub for new technology in aviation. Many milestones, including first flight of the XV-15, V-22, 609 and 407, took place in the DFW metroplex. According to Bell, building FVL aircraft will require the right blend of investment in manufacturing technology and a quality workforce, as well as strong partnerships with the state and community.
“The MTC is the next step in successfully deploying new manufacturing technologies and processes into Bell’s future factories,” said Glenn Isbell, vice president, Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing Innovation. “These future factories working together with our teammates and suppliers, will be designed to enable high-quality, high-rate production of the Bell V-280 Valor, Bell 360 Invictus and other future aircraft.”
Digital connectivity and integration form the backbone of the MTC. The entire facility will be monitored and controlled by its own IT Network; Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and cybersecurity systems that manage the inflow and outflow of materials, as well as the movement of activity throughout the factory. By deploying a networked software infrastructure, the MTC will produce a digital twin of itself that gives managers a common operating picture of the building, the equipment and the processes.
Why it matters: In tandem with its development of Future Vertical Lift aircraft for military applications, Bell has been applying similar technologies to the advancement of urban air mobility vehicles. Notably, the company has already unveiled prototypes of the Bell Nexus passenger eVTOLs as well as the APT cargo eVTOL, which may be developed or produced in facilities like the MCT.
- Bell Unveils All-Electric Nexus 4EX at CES 2020
- Bell Partners with Sumitomo and Japan Airlines for Future of eVTOL
Source // Bell Flight press release
Urban-Air Port Ltd and Hyundai Air Mobility (a Hyundai Motor Group division) have announced a collaboration effort to create smart mobility solutions that put people first, connect communities, and generate shared value. Hyundai has recently focused additional resources on enhancing its product line up to help usher in a more sustainable future, while offering innovative solutions to real-world mobility challenges. ...
Urban-Air Port Ltd and Hyundai Air Mobility (a Hyundai Motor Group division) have announced a collaboration effort to create smart mobility solutions that put people first, connect communities, and generate shared value.
Hyundai has recently focused additional resources on enhancing its product line up to help usher in a more sustainable future, while offering innovative solutions to real-world mobility challenges. Through the process, the multinational automotive manufacturer aims to facilitate ‘Progress for Humanity’ with smart mobility solutions that vitalize connections between people and provide quality time to its customers.
To achieve this, Hyundai has partnered with Urban-Air Port Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of small. (Six Miles Across London Limited). small. consists of a group of UK based Urban DeepTech companies focusing on Future Mobility; Urban.AV (Autonomous Vehicles), Urban.MASS (Mass Transit) and Urban-Air Port. In total, Hyundai plans to invest $1.5B in UAM over the next five years to create an air vehicle and the supporting mobility ecosystem for UAM operations. Whilst vehicle development is crucial and underway, an urgent need for appropriate ground infrastructure remains one of the biggest constraints on the growing sector, according to NASA and industry leaders.
“As part of Hyundai Motor Group, our Air Mobility division is intent on supporting the development of human-centred cities through innovation,” said Dr. Jaiwon Shin, Head of Hyundai Air Mobility.
Hyundai’s and Urban-Air Port’s goals in this partnership are fully aligned – transforming cities for the better by creating a versatile infrastructure that enables future mobility, vitalises urban communities, and expands access to transportation services and the green economy. Pamela Cohn, COO of Hyundai Air Mobility, said “There is often a strong focus on the vehicles, but without coordination and investment in other parts of the ecosystem, UAM is just a flying science project. Infrastructure is one of the crucial areas of the broader ecosystem that will bring aerial mobility to communities around the world. We are excited to partner with Urban-Air Port and UK communities to explore what this infrastructure of the future will look like.”
Ricky Sandhu, CEO of Urban-Air Port said: “We are extremely proud to announce our partnership with Hyundai Air Mobility as we embark on bringing together world-class electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle OEMs, passenger and logistics service operators and our physical & digital infrastructure in our unique, flexible and sustainable turn-key “Air-OneTM” approach that we believe will help unlock and propel a clean, future UAM mobility ecosystem both here in the UK and around the world for multiple sectors.”
Hyundai Air Mobility and Urban-Air Port plan to invest in development of a full-scale prototype for live eVTOL demonstrations. Two UK cities have already signed on to support development in 2021, including what will be UK’s 1st, Coventry in the West Midlands, which will host UK City of Culture 2021 and the Commonwealth Games.
Why it’s important: This partnership highlights Hyundai’s ambition for a future mobility ecosystem by adding infrastructure to their existing industry partnerships. The Urban-Air Port® design has a 60% smaller footprint than a traditional heliport or nearest-state-of-the-art ‘vertiports’, allowing for quick and easy installation in space-limited urban sites. Its modular flat-pack structure results in a cost-effective, transportable and rapidly deployable new form of infrastructure that is impressively capable of providing both passenger/cargo processing/amenities and vehicle charging/maintenance facilities.
Source // Urban-Air Port press release