Much has been said in recent years – and in a decidedly more concrete way in recent months – about urban transport by air, flying taxis and in general electric aircraft capable of taking off and landing vertically (the so-called eVTOLs), but just like it also happens for electric cars, it is impossible to think of a diffusion of this type of vehicle without adequate infrastructures.
NASA itself has pointed out the need to invest in infrastructure, predicting that in the United States alone urban air mobility could be worth up to $ 500 billion in the short term, provided that the necessary network is available. And in Great Britain, therefore, the government has decided to incentivize the development of plans and projects in this sense by launching the “Future Flight Challenge” and focusing on the Urban Air Port, the first hub for future electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft. , selected as the winner of the program.
Hyundai Motor Group also collaborates with the project, which has chosen the Urban Air Port as its main partner for the infrastructure: the support is part of the group’s plans for the marketing of its aircraft, expected by 2028. And the Urban Air Port , which will be built on the outskirts of Coventry, plans to expand with the development of over 200 zero-emission sites over the next five years, all thanks to a grant of £ 1.2 million from UK Research and Innovation.
Work on the Air-One has started, and the first “eVTOL airport” will be unveiled in celebration of Coventry as the UK’s 2021 City of Culture. Not a random choice, that of Coventry, which in December 2020 was elected the best city in the UK for electric cars and which will be one of the two British cities, together with Oxford, to have a fleet of electric buses only. The location of Coventry is also strategic, as it allows you to reach most of the country’s locations in 4 hours.
The other piece of the collaboration between the British government and Hyundai is represented by Malloy Aeronautics, a company specializing in the development of drones and logistics: the company’s largest cargo drones will be tested right inside the Air-One, with live demonstrations. on the remote control and command of aircraft, on the refueling and loading of cargo and passengers of eVTOL aircraft, with or without pilot, operating in three key markets: passenger air taxi services, autonomous logistics and emergency management.
The physical footprint of an Urban Air Port is also less than 60% compared to a traditional heliport, and through the use of an innovative construction technique, the sites can be installed in a few days, are characterized by carbon neutrality and they can be operated as stand-alone systems, ie they do not always have to depend on a connection to an adequate infrastructure. The versatility also makes them ideal locations for electric vehicles, electric buses and battery-powered scooters or other vehicles.
“Cars need roads, rail trains, airport planes, while eVTOL aircraft will need Urban Air Ports – said Ricky Sandhu, founder and executive director of Urban Air Port – More than a hundred years ago the first commercial flight to the world, giving rise to today’s connected world. Urban Air Port will improve the physical connection between our cities, boost productivity and help the UK take a leadership position in an entirely new clean global economy. The flying machines represented a futuristic lucubration. Air One will make urban air transport clean and accessible to people by introducing a new world of zero-emission air mobility ”.
“As we continue our program dedicated to eVTOL aircraft, infrastructure development is imperative – added Pamela Cohn, CEO of Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility division – Air One is a singular project that aims to pave the way for development of a robust, accessible and intermodal network of infrastructures for the mobility of the future. We are thrilled to be part of this partnership with the UK and look forward to working together to impact the community and create opportunities through safe, accessible and human-centered mobility solutions. ”
However, Hyundai is not the only one to focus on the development of the so-called “eVTOL”, even if it was among the first car manufacturers to do so, starting a collaboration with Uber (which then sold its specialized division to Jony Aviation).
FCA also recently entered the business by signing an agreement with the Californian startup Archer Aviation, specialized in the construction of electric aircraft, for the construction of a flying electric taxi.
The German company Lilium has already raised around $ 100 million to get its five-seater flying taxi off the ground in 2025, while Volocopter has already successfully tested its flying taxi in Dubai, as have Boeing and Japan’s Nec. Corp.