Technology

Flying taxis in search of optimized infrastructure

Wisk Aero, the flying taxi joint venture between Boeing and Kitty Hawk, is partnering with Skyports. The latter designs, develops and operates “vertiports”, sites specifically designed to accommodate electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The goal of this partnership, which was announced in April 2022, is to best define the infrastructure needed to host eVTOL.

Draft concept of operations

While air mobility services are likely to be launched with pilots on board first, autonomy is key to deploying such services at scale and at an affordable cost. The two partners explain that they ensure that the ground infrastructure can accommodate autonomous eVTOLs.

Wisk and Skyports want to identify and evaluate critical areas for this activity, whether at the level of the aircraft itself (functionality, capabilities, interfaces, etc.), passenger service, schedule planning, ground operations management, approach and takeoff. , navigation aids, contingency and airspace management.

The partners have already released a Concept of Operations (ConOps) draft that defines how autonomous and manned eVTOLs will integrate with vertiports, as well as interactions with service providers. Necessary modifications and procedural changes are also described. The route of the autonomous VTOL aircraft and its connection with the infrastructure, as well as interaction with the transport operator are described.

Vertiport prototype opens in Coventry

Shortly thereafter, Urban-Air Port announced the opening of its prototype transport hub for flying taxis and other drones. Located in Coventry in the United Kingdom, this hub called Air-One was announced by Hyundai in January 2021. The car manufacturer then explained that it wants to use the space to highlight eVTOL (flying taxis, logistics, emergencies) use cases.

“From design to manufacturing and now to operations, Urban-Air Port delivered the Air-One in just 15 months,” commented Riki Sandhu, Founder and Executive Chairman of Urban-Air Port. The startup adds that this prototype will be operational within a month. Specifically, Air-One is a prefabricated helicopter designed for quick assembly and disassembly. The goal is to show how air mobility can reduce congestion and pollution.

Demonstration flights?

For now, the Coventry site plans to host demonstration flights, but the startup did not specify which companies will use their aircraft. Drone cargo loading and eVTOL reloading will also be tested, the BBC said. Meanwhile, West Midlands Police said a team would be there to demonstrate the equipment and educate visitors about police use of drones.

There will be more vertiport deployments as Urban-Air Port wants to open over 200 sites around the world in the next 5 years, specifically in the US, Australia, South Korea, France, Germany, Scandinavia and South Asia. .

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