This past weekend, the leaders of the urban air mobility industry gathered at BentonvilleUP, an event hosted by TransportUP, in Bentonville, Arkansas to share their progress and reflect on the current state of the urban air mobility industry.
The event, which was co-hosted by Ben Marcus of Airmap, Cyrus Sigari of jetAVIVA, and Steuart Walton, was the second annual gathering of a select group of individuals who are defining the future of urban air mobility. Among other attendees included representatives from Joby Aviation, Porsche SE, Boom Aerospace, Verdego, Lilium, Volocopter, EHang, Uber, Pipistrel, Airbus, a number of venture capital firms, and more – the total attendee list included professionals from 70 companies.
The event opened Friday evening with a cocktail hour, airshow, and gala in one of the main hangars at Bentonville Municipal airport – complete with an amphibious Cessna Caravan and a Spitfire to complete the accouterment. Saturday morning, the event began with a jetpack demonstration by Richard Browning of Gravity Enterprises. Mr. Browning then kicked off the morning talks with an overview of his current technology and some advice from his journey through business, aerospace, and entrepreneurship.
Then, a number of urban air mobility specialists overviewed the status of their technology, their innovations, struggles, and achievements that have allowed them to stand out in the UAM industry through a series of lightning talks that spanned the greater part of Saturday. Among some of the largest announcements were those made by EHang and Pipistrel, and some attendees afforded their personal experience dealing with common regulators or technical challenges in efforts to progress the whole industry in lieu of individual gains.
Throughout the event, a number of tours were conducted of the surrounding area in a Huey helicopter, in addition to walking tours of the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art.
On Sunday, the lightning talks continued during the course of the morning. In the afternoon, there was an investor roundtable that sparked discussion toward the current and future state of the industry, the business activities that most drove investment interest, and the mechanics of long term positions in urban air mobility firms.
Here’s the opening video of the flying car conference:
The third annual event scheduled for fall of 2019 is already planned in an undisclosed location.
Why it’s important: BentonvilleUP marks the second in a series of annual conferences that are bringing the urban air mobility industry’s brightest minds together. The collaborative and personal nature of these conferences aides in the sharing of information and lessons learned between UAM companies that is helping to bridge infrastructure, regulatory, and public perception gaps that have been identified as the main hurdles in bringing commercial UAM solutions to widespread market application.