NASA has made its stance in the new flying car industry clear by recognizing Urban Air Mobility (UAM) as the next step in aviation innovation.

Nasa Urban Air Mobility Challenge

In 2020, NASA will commence the first of it’s series of urban air mobility ‘Grand Challenges‘. These challenges will focus on allowing companies with new flight technologies to successfully demonstrate full system safety. Part of the goal of this effort is to begin the process of public confidence and acceptance.

On November 1-2, NASA will host an ‘Industry Day‘ for urban air mobility. Here, it plans to gather all the players in the coming eco-system to outline and prepare for the 2020 Grand Challenge. According to NASA, attendees will be companies that are “highly motivated to participate and work with us to achieve a safe, commercial operating capability.”

“The convergence of technologies, and new business models enabled by the digital revolution, is making it possible to explore this new way for people and cargo to move within our cities,” – Jaiwon Shin, NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Research.

NASA Urban Air Mobility

An artist’s conception of an urban air mobility environment, where air vehicles with a variety of missions and with or without pilots, are able to interact safely and efficiently.

Another goal for the Grand Challenge is helping vehicles to achieve airworthiness certification. In collaboration with the FAA, vehicles will be put through performance tests both for normal flight and for emergency situations such as the loss of the motor. The first Grand Challenge will evaluate ground handling, taxi and takeoff, cruising capabilities and flight path changes, landing and turnaround in a variety of conditions, energy storage and battery capacity, and Management of critical systems failures.

“Now, our goals are to help develop and enable as much as possible what we like to think of as an entire ecosystem when it comes to Urban Air Mobility,” – Davis Hackenberg, UAM Engineer at NASA.

NASA Engineer testing a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle)

NASA Engineer testing a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle)

Why it’s important:

As an airspace traffic manager, NASA will play a crucial role in the new industry UAM industry. While the FAA determines certifications for aircraft, NASA will be greatly responsible for the new airspace management technologies. It has already spent the last six years working on its Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System, which focuses on building a digital management ‘UAS’ system for unmanned commercial drones. The Grand Challenge event event takes the next big step for both aircraft certification and for UAS systems development.

Posted by Naish Gaubatz

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