Within a decade, technological advances could profoundly subvert urban transport. Unmanned, take-off and landing aircraft, eVTOLs, may come.
The word comes from the abbreviation hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing. It is a new type of vehicle that can revolutionize the transport of goods and passengers between and within cities, although this is not new, many are not fully aware with the meaning of the word. They are electric or hybrid-electric vehicles capable of vertical take-off and landing that deliver the transport or persons to the destination quieter, faster and cheaper than conventional helicopters.
They need to create reliable engines, high-precision positioning systems, advanced detection and accident prevention solutions to make the technology a success. Answering energy management questions is also key.
The infrastructure needed to operate eVTOLs must also be built. In addition to take-off and landing areas, car parks, charging and service stations, emergency landing sites, the creation of a communication and control network and a unified operating system is also inevitable.
A new kind of taxiing
Defining the operational framework is a very serious challenge. It is no wonder that, in addition to vehicle development, eVTOL manufacturers are working together to create a regulatory framework for air taxi transport. The biggest task is the safe and efficient operation of the airspace with increased traffic. An unmanned vehicle traffic management system capable of interoperating with existing air traffic systems needs to be developed. This will require a reliable and secure communication network, a predictable and consistent navigation system and constant monitoring.
For conventional aircraft, ie airplanes and helicopters, it is expected that many more eVTOLs involved in the transport of passengers and goods will be able to fly, so the airspace will have to be divided and managed separately. How the two systems work side by side is up to governments and local governments to determine. The authorities will have to decide what certificate of airworthiness the unmanned vehicles will be able to carry and if they will meet them.
Just as the advent of electric cars has forced traditional automakers to step in, serious changes can be expected in the aviation industry. Just as car and travel sharing services, combined with the benefits of technological advances and geolocation, have reshaped the image of urban transport, eVTOL technology will change air traffic between and within cities. Deloitte estimates that the market for new types of aircraft could reach $ 17 billion by 2040.