On January 13, The Transportation Research Board hosted a panel discussion with senior transportation officials to talk about automation technology in the transportation space. Representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) joined two deputy assistant Transportation secretaries to talk about various new technologies and the rulemaking processes governing them. The panelists discussed automated driving systems, self-driving cars, unmanned aircraft systems, and the spectrum allocation for these new technologies.

At the gathering, Jay Merkle, the Executive Director of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office, spoke to the panel regarding the future of aerial mobility, as well as what is happening in the present day:

“As I mentioned, these are aircraft that fill that void from 30 miles to 300 miles, between the small drones and the commercial aircraft we know today. And probably the biggest question I get on this is, is this real? Are they really happening? Yes, this is more than just hype. This is more than just promotional videos. We have at least six aircraft well along in their type certification, which is the first step in introducing the new aircraft into operation. We are beginning to work on integrating them operationally, so the pilot requirements, the airline operating requirements, and then were also beginning to work on the air space integration as well.”

“The biggest lesson learned out of all of this work has not been the underlying technology, but it’s really been how do we engage the public and help them embrace these very innovative technologies?”

“To that end, we are continuing and starting to work on community engagement. This will be a particularly new challenge for us … these urban air mobility vehicles tend to be electric driven and have tremendous power requirements for recharging. There are problems that I should say, there are needs to solve certain problems, associated with getting people to and from these aircraft. The best example is they want to use space on top of existing buildings, as landing areas. And most elevators don’t go to the roof. So they will have to redesign elevators to get passengers up to those areas. And to get them up there safely, and without interrupting other activities. So this is a brief overview of all of the very exciting and innovative things that are going on in aviation today. And I think it matches well with what we’re seeing emerge in the surface transportation areas, and the other areas of research.”

Why it’s important: In order to expand the scope of current regulations and infrastructural development, the Transportation Research Board is looking to the experience and knowledge the FAA has already begun to gather regarding the emerging aerial mobility sector. Regulators are making available ample resources to aerial mobility vehicle manufacturers and operators, which has led – and will continue to lead – to the growth of the industry and increased public awareness.

Source // C-SPAN

Posted by George Gatsios

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