The Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge, initiated by the FAA and NASA, is designed to provide a ‘proving ground’ for new types of urban aircraft, allowing both government regulators and the new aircraft developers to begin setting the standards for commercial certification. This week, NASA announced seventeen of the companies it will be working with in the Grand Challenge.

An artist’s rendering of NASA’s vision for the future of urban air mobility.

The main event of the Grand Challenge will take place in 2022, and will be a “full field demonstration in an urban environment that tests the readiness of companies’ vehicles and airspace operators’ systems to operate during a full range of passenger transport and cargo delivery scenarios.” According to NASA, the timeline set for the Grand Challenge series was dictated by predictions from participants on their aircrafts’ readiness. Traffic management systems, weather resilience, safety, and other systems for communications and navigation will all be tested and evaluated.

The developmental testing phase of the UAM Grand Challenge in 2020 will assess the readiness of NASA’s test infrastructure while integrating a mobile operating facility and NASA airspace services. Joby Aviation is slated to complete flight tests during this developmental phase.

In the 2022 main event, Joby Aviation and five other companies will complete flight tests. These are: Zeva Aerospace, Bell, BoeingNFT, and Prodentity.

Featured: Joby Aviation (top left), Zeva Zero (top right), The Bell Nexus (bottom left), and the Boeing PAV (bottom right).

The other eleven industry partners with NASA focus on providing solutions and data for UAM air traffic management services, which will be a key part of the aerial mobility ecosystem. During the Grand Challenge, these companies will test their airspace management services in a series of NASA-designed airspace simulations. The list of companies includes:

  • AirMap
  • AiRXOS,
  • ANRA Technologies
  • Avision
  • Ellis & Associates
  • GeoRq
  • Metron Aviation
  • OneSky Systems
  • Uber Technologies
  • The University of North Texas

Why it’s Important: NASA’s Grand Challenge is not only designed to test new aircraft, but to help NASA and the FAA set certification requirements for vehicles going into commercial operation within the next ten years. Companies that participate in the Grand Challenge are likely to have a head start on launching operation of their aircraft in commercial services.


NASA Completes First Steps in Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge
(November 2018)

Toyota-Backed Joby Aviation Raised $590 Million in Series C Funding
(January 2020)

New Zeva Zero Prototype Images Revealed
(October 2019)

Sources //

Posted by Benji

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