Within a decade, technological advances could profoundly revolutionize urban transport: unmanned, take-off and landing aircraft, eVTOLs or flying cars could come.
Although their spread is hampered by even more serious problems today, their emergence could bring about revolutionary changes in the aerospace industry similar to those we are currently experiencing in the automotive industry. The next big leap in mobility may come soon.
One hundred years ago, Glenn Curtiss, a pioneer of American aviation and one of the founders of the U.S. aerospace industry, dreamed of three-seater, detachable-wing “flying cars” that shortened hours on the ground for hours on air.
After a century, Curtiss’s dream seems to be coming true.
A NEW TYPE OF VEHICLE IS EMERGING THAT CAN REVOLUTIONIZE THE TRANSPORT OF GOODS AND PASSENGERS BETWEEN URBAN AND IN URBAN
Deloitte ‘s study on the subject states.
These are electric or hybrid-electric vehicles capable of vertical take-off and landing that deliver the traffic to the destination quieter, faster and cheaper than conventional helicopters. The category is called “hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing”.
Barriers to new technology
However, as a novelty, eVTOL also faces a number of challenges. The Deloitte study lists the following factors that could hinder the spread of these revolutionary new types of vehicles:
Technological challenges. EVTOL is not a fully fledged technology today. 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.
Infrastructure challenges. The infrastructure needed to operate them 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.
Regulatory challenges. 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.
Societal challenges. Deloitte surveyed people’s perceptions of eVTOLs in a 10,000 consumer survey. Nearly half of respondents say technology is a great solution against traffic jams, but 80 percent believe these devices are not completely safe. The key question, then, is whether manufacturers can overcome these fears.
Air traffic control system. 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.
Urban infrastructure. Building the facilities needed to service air taxis in the city is neither easy nor cheap. It is inevitable that not only businesses but also local governments will be involved in creating these conditions.
Aviation industry. 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 have been combined with the benefits of technological advances and geolocation, and the image of urban transport has been reshaped, eVTOL technology will also change air traffic between and within cities.
DELOITTE ACKNOWLEDGES THAT THE NEW-TYPE AIRCRAFT MARKET CAN REACH $ 17 BILLION BY 2040.
A dizzying pace of development is expected. Technology is evolving rapidly, and in addition to multinational giants, small technology startups are already working on the development of eVTOL. These include the Slovenian Pipistrel, the British VRCO and RollsRoyce, the American AirspaceX or Bell, and the Brazilian Embraer, so the first eVTOLs are up to
THEY CAN APPEAR ONE OF THE CITIES IN A DECADE.
For similar startups like them, Deloitte Technology’s Fast50 program has been launched, looking for the most innovative businesses in the field.
A Texas company wants to offer single-person, rental electric planes for recreational purposes in major U.S. cities later this year. The vehicles are designed to be controlled with a joystick, so they don’t need a pilot’s license either.
LIFT’s single-person aircraft could be the industry’s next success story, as it could be the first to provide a single-person flying experience for anyone. This is because the machine is light enough for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to classify them as an “ultralight” vehicle. However, ultralight vehicles do not require a permit.
The drones have recently launched a real revolution in human flight as well, as they have been introduced to concepts such as air taxis or joystick-controlled, multi-rotor single-person aircraft since their inception. They all evolved from unmanned aerial drones, only much larger than them, and also provided a seat for passengers.
Tesla, Uber, or various car, motorcycle, bicycle, or even scooter-sharing service providers have transformed and completely reinterpreted urban transportation.
The next step in the complete transformation of mobility could be the emergence of eVTOL and self-driving flying cars.