It’s like a scene out of a sci-fi movie: helicopter-like objects flying autonomously above the congested highway to bring travellers to their destinations in no time at all. When Dorothee Bär talked about air taxis three years ago, the Minister of Digital Affairs was ridiculed for it. In fact, urban air mobility (UAM) is actually a booming market. Companies such as Lilium, Volocopter, and Archer are already fine-tuning the early concepts in urban aviation, which is intended to be quieter, safer, and more affordable than helicopter flights.
Urban aviation could become a reality sooner than we think. Andrea Linder, a U.S.-based Ph.D. candidate in business administration focusing on UAM, expects air taxis to take off in some cities within the next five years: “Urban air mobility has enormous potential and will be an essential part of the mobility matrix in the future.” As she is writing her dissertation on UAM with a focus on marketing, no one probably has their eye on the market like she does. On top of that, as project manager for the Bavarian U.S. Offices for Economic Development, she organized the first virtual conference for UAM, bringing together visionaries, developers, and investors. The German state of Bavaria is active and innovative in the field of UAM. The UAM Initiative in the town of Ingolstadt recently received 100 million euros in funding to expand Bavaria’s position as a technological leader in the field.
Taking off at affordable prices
In episode 4 of my podcast, Deep Dive Mobility, Andrea tells me about the current challenges facing manufacturers of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicles. These devices are produced in hybrid and purely electric variants, so they can operate as quietly and sustainably as possible. I found out that VTOLs need to be certified and must meet legal regulations, which may vary from country to country. This is not an easy task if the goal, in the long run, is to move toward mass production. After all, air taxis shouldn’t cater exclusively to business travellers; private individuals should be able to book them at affordable rates as well.
In the latest episode of Deep Dive Mobility, you will learn what UAM infrastructure will look like concerning airports and landing pads, why the first air taxis won’t be taking off in the U.S., and whether you can afford a short trip in one. You can find the podcast on Spotify, Apple, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Would you catch a ride in an air taxi? What do you think of urban air mobility? I’m looking forward to hearing your comments.