Guest Blog from Will from The Drone Rules

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s your air taxi! Is there a world in which your next trip to the supermarket involves a flying vehicle?

There has been an inception of vertically flying, electrically powered and autonomously controlled vehicles that are being designed to streamline travel across cities. Aerospace engineers are calling this AAM (Advanced Air Mobility).

“Advanced Air Mobility is the next revolution in aerospace and there are over 200+ companies engineering these electric flying vehicles across the globe for inter-city flights.

Due to recent trends, such as the growth of on-demand services and a focus on sustainability, AAM is making good progress. The future of AAM will be like current on-demand service providers such as Uber and Lyft. Although it likely will cost more than ground taxi service, the emerging transportation mode is expected to be cheaper than current helicopter travel and provide tremendous time savings over ground-based alternatives. Those savings are a leap in productivity and can be essential for VIP and potentially important for other passengers. Rather than waiting an hour in city traffic, a AAM vehicle could fly over traffic within a few minutes.

However, there are several challenges that AAM face. These include building infrastructure for ports. These are called vertiports. The need for communication infrastructure is also important to allow for digital visibility as well as command and control of these vehicles. Advanced air mobility also requires large amounts of electricity, which will ideally come from renewable sources to promote sustainability. Additionally, advanced air mobility will require the right level of regulations to ensure safe flights.

Imagine boarding – travellers will use dedicated vertiports, which could be on top of high buildings and will require an elevator reach, or perhaps a ground level port similar to a small car park.

These vehicles are not going to replace all cars and public transportation. It will still be more sustainable to take an electric bus or train as those modes of transport carry more people per trip. However, for certain kinds of trips, advanced air mobility vehicles can really help cut down on emissions.

UAM technological development is accelerating, thanks to these key engineering innovations:

  • Improving battery capacity with enough electrical energy to allow a AAM vehicle to fly for a useful duration and range.
  • Electric motors that can power multiple propellers, whilst reducing noise levels to a tolerable level for city residents and commuters.
  • Advanced autonomy and automated software to control a UAM vehicle’s components.

As improvements continue these regional eVTOL (electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing vehicles) could remove the need for additional time-consuming investments in new rail lines or wider roads.

TDR (The Drone Rules) is a company helping to educate the nation on the current drone rules and regulations as well as providing aerial photography services. TDR run fun but educational drone sessions in institutions across the UK. These activities are highly engaging and help primary, secondary, and further educated students to design build, code and fly drones in teams and competitions, preparing our up-and-coming Scientists, Technologists, Engineers, Artists and Mathematicians (STEAM) for this exciting future ahead.