As the technology passes through its various phases there are several Urban Air Mobility companies to keep an eye on. In this post I’m going to list many of the companies involved in the field of UAM and the aircraft in development.
Urban Air Mobility (UAM is the term applied to VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) and eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) vehicles designed to carry one or more people within or between cities. These new types of aircraft may be commercially piloted, privately piloted, or autonomous drones. They may carry passengers, be flown solo, or ferry medical supplies and other cargo or deliveries.
But what’s the demand? Why do we need an alternative mode of transport?
We are familiar with the delays and frustrations caused by congestion on roads and railways, and the strains placed upon our transport infrastructure by an ever increasing urban population. Roads and railways are expensive to build and maintain, and they can be very damaging to the environment.
We’ve also grown accustomed to the idea that we have to switch to more sustainable and less polluting forms of energy consumption. And we also recognise there is continuing and growing demand for personal and public transportation within and between our cities.
People want safe, convenient, affordable transport powered by sustainable energy and it’s time we looked up to a third dimension.
Now it seems we’ve reached a point where all the necessary ingredients are in place to create a rapid period of growth in urban air mobility. The demand exists, the investment and the vision are in place, and the technological advancements have reached a point where prototypes have been flown and tested.
The development phase is well under way and flight tests have been ongoing for several years. While some have opted for a joint venture, the competitive rivalry between many urban air mobility innovators is adding grist to the mill.
And so, it is predicted that by 2025 we’ll see the first viable flying taxis and airborne intercity shuttles, and by 2050 they are likely to have become commonplace. There are now several viable aircraft ready to fly as urban air taxis, intercity commuter aircraft, and airport shuttles.
UAM Technology Companies & Vehicles
What follows is a list of the companies involved in the development of these aircraft. Some of these companies are well known global brands and others are startups bringing innovations to the industry.
If you think I’ve missed any of the major players then please post a comment and I will investigate.
- A³ by Airbus with their Vahana
- AeroMobil and their AM NEXT
- The Avianovations Hepard
- Airbus Helicopters’ CityAirbus
- The MOBI by Airspace Experience Technologies (AirspaceX)
- The Astro Aerospace Elroy
- Aurora’s VTOL
- AutoFlightX’s BAT600
- The Bartini Flying Car
- The Beta Technologies Ava XC
- Bell’s Nexus
- Boeing’s Cargo Aerial Vehicle
- The Carter Aviation Air Taxi
- The Delorean Aerospace DR-7
- Embraer’s Embraer X eVTOL division
- Ehang Holdings Limited
- The HopFlyt Venturi
- The Hoversurf Formula Drone Taxi
- The Kitty Hawk Cora and the Kitty Hawk Flyer
- Jaunt Air Mobility
- Jetpack Aviation’s Speeder
- Joby Aviation’s Joby S4
- Karem Aircraft’s Karem Butterfly
- Lilium Aviation’s Lilium Jet
- Neoptera Aero’s eOpter
- NFT’s ASKA eVTOL flying car
- The Opener BlackFly
- The PAL-V Flying Car
- Piasecki’s eVTOL
- Pipistrel Vertical Solutions
- The Sabrewing Draco-2 UAS
- The Sikorsky VERT
- Skyworks Global
- The Terrafugia TF-X
- The Transcend Air Vy 400
- The Top Flight Technologies Airborg H8 10K
- Uber’s Air Taxis
- The Urban Aeronautics CityHawk
- Vimana’s Autonomous Aerial Vehicles
- The Volocopter VC200 and the Volocopter 2X
- The XTI Aircraft TriFan 600
- The X VerdeGo Aero PAT200 (Personal Air Taxi)
- Zunum Aero
Urban Air Mobility Industry Examples
Ehang is one of the leading companies involved in urban air mobility developments. It provides a range of products and services, including eHang Passenger Service, eHang Cargo Service, eHang Aviator Service, and eHang UAV Service. Ehang has been able to make a significant impact in the industry with its innovative products and services.
Neoptera Aero is a UAM company that has been operational for several years. The company has a strong focus on providing urban air mobility services for businesses and governments. Neoptera Aero has a number of innovative solutions that make it an attractive UAM provider, including its patented vertical takeoff and landing technology.
Opener is a leader in the urban air mobility market. The company has been able to make significant contributions to the advancement of UAM. The Opener BlackFly has been instrumental in the development of UAM. The company has also developed several other technologies that have helped to shape UAM.
Another leading company in urban air mobility is Uber. They offer a range of products and services, including on-demand transportation, freight delivery, and helicopter services. Uber is working on a number of initiatives to improve urban air mobility, including their Elevate program. This program is aimed at developing a regional air mobility network of electric aircraft that can be used for on-demand transportation.
Volocopter is well-known German company involved in the urban air mobility market. They offer products and services such as air taxis and cargo drones. Volocopter is one of the leading companies in this industry, and they are working on making urban air mobility a reality. They are partnering with other companies, such as Airbus.
Zunum Aero is another UAM company that is focused on making air travel more accessible and affordable. They are developing a new generation of electric aircraft that will be used for short-haul flights. Zunum Aero believes that their aircraft will help to reduce the cost of air travel and make it more accessible for people and businesses.
The Emergence of Vertiports
Vertiports are a key part of the urban air mobility ecosystem. They provide a safe and efficient place for aircraft to land and takeoff, and they’re essential for connecting passengers and cargo with the rest of the transportation system. Vertiports can be on the ground, on water, or even in the air, and they come in all shapes and sizes.
Every urban area is different, so it’s important for vertiport designers to take into account the specific needs of their location. For example, a vertiport in a dense city center will need to be able to handle a lot of traffic, while one in a rural area may only need to support a few flights each day.
Vertiports are also a major part of the transport infrastructure, and they need to be able to handle the weight and size of UAM aircraft. This can be a challenge in some locations, but it’s something that vertiport designers are working on.
Overall, vertiports are an essential piece of the urban air mobility puzzle, and they’re poised to play a major role in the future of transportation.
They should not present major challenges for civil engineering but they will need to be sensitive to their locations with the urban destinations. Your local city vertiport will provide a safe landing point for and air ambulance and other emergency services.
When will we be flying in these vehicles?
Before we can all start booking air taxis on our apps there are still some big obstacles to overcome. Safety is the primary concern but there are also challenges in the areas of infrastructure and noise.
Stability in the air another. No one wants to take a ride in an air taxi that’s being buffeted by gusts between the skyscrapers. Then of course there are things like battery power, vehicle separation, take-off and landing sites, and so on.
But as always, where there’s a will there’s a way.
So while our cities have yet to take on the appearance of Los Angeles in Blade Runner there’s a good chance that you may be able to take a ride in an air taxi in the next ten years.
You, or some of your children and grand children will be piloting these aircraft while others will be autonomous air vehicles i.e. passenger drones.
How do you think this industry will evolve? Which designs will succeed and why?
Urban Air Mobility Defined
Urban air mobility (UAM) is a term used to describe a variety of urban transportation concepts that involve the use of small, electric aircraft to transport people or goods within or between cities. UAM services can include on-demand flights, scheduled flights, or cargo deliveries.
Some major trends in the UAM industry include the rise of electric aircraft, the development of autonomous flying technology, and the increasing demand for urban transport solutions.
UAM is expected to play a major role in the future of transportation, as it can help reduce traffic congestion and improve access to transportation services in urban areas. UAM companies are poised to benefit from this growing industry, and investors should pay attention to these companies as the UAM market continues to develop.
Many other companies are involved in the UAM industry, and the market is still in its early stages of development. As the UAM market grows, we can expect to see even more companies enter this space. Investors should keep an eye on the UAM industry and watch for new developments, as this market is poised to experience significant growth in the years to come.
Airbus reveals the next generation of CityAirbus
Toulouse, 21 September 2021 – Airbus has announced plans for a new CityAirbus at the Company’s first #AirbusSummit on “Pioneering Sustainable Aerospace” as the emerging Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market begins to firm up. Ushering in the next generation of CityAirbus, the fully electric vehicle is equipped with fixed wings, a V-shaped tail, and eight
electrically powered propellers as part of its uniquely designed distributed propulsion system.
It is designed to carry up to four passengers in a zero emissions flight in multiple applications. “We are on a quest to co-create an entirely new market that sustainably integrates urban air mobility into the cities while addressing environmental and social concerns.
Airbus is convinced that the real challenges are as much about urban integration, public acceptance, and automated air traffic management, as about vehicle technology and business models. We build on all of the capabilities to deliver a safe, sustainable, and fully integrated service to society,” said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO.
CityAirbus is being developed to fly with a 80 km range and to reach a cruise speed of 120 km/h, making it perfectly suited for operations in major cities for a variety of missions. Sound levels are a key factor for an urban mission; Airbus’ extensive expertise in noise-friendly designs is driving CityAirbus’ sound levels below 65 dB(A) during fly-over and below 70 dB(A) during landing.
It is optimized for hover and cruise efficiency, while not requiring moving surfaces or tilting parts during transition. The CityAirbus NextGen meets the highest certification standards (EASA SC-VTOL Enhanced Category). Designed with simplicity in mind, CityAirbus NextGen will offer best-in-class economic performance in operations and support.
Airbus is benefitting from years of dedicated research, innovation, two electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) demonstrators, and development on sound technology across its portfolio of products, as well as decades of experience in certifying aircraft. The Vahana and CityAirbus demonstrators have jointly conducted 242 flight and ground tests and have flown around 1,000 km in total.
Furthermore, Airbus has used extensive subscale flight testing and wind tunnel campaigns and has leveraged its computing and modelling power. CityAirbus NextGen is in a detailed design phase right now and the prototype’s first flight is planned for 2023.
“We have learned a lot from the test campaigns with our two demonstrators, CityAirbus and Vahana”, said Even. “The CityAirbus NextGen combines the best from both worlds with the new architecture striking the right balance between hover and forward flight. The prototype is paving the way for certification expected around 2025.”
Beyond the vehicle, Airbus is working with partners, cities, and city inhabitants in order to
create the ecosystem that is essential to enabling this new operating environment to emerge
in a true service to society.
Contacts for the media
+33 6 18 79 75 69
Gregor v. Kursell
+49 (0)609 71 45 65
ASKA™ Flying Car
The ASKA (‘flying bird’ in Japanese) is an eVTOL personal flying car which is expected to be on the market by 2026. Test flights were expected to occur in the first quarter of 2020.
NFT are based in California and have an engineering divising in Israel, and it was there that a demonstrator model was revealed at the EcoMotion trade fair. This battery-powered SUV will have a range of 350 miles and will carry up to three people.
It will fly autonomously, with lift generated by fourteen ducted fans, 12 of which will be in the body of the car and one at each wing tip. This 20 foot long Urban Air Mobility vehicle will drive on conventional roads to a designated open space where it will unfold its wings, giving it a wingspan of about 40 feet
It will take off vertically and fly autonomously to its destination before landing and reversing the process to return to the roads. So the vehicle could arrive at your home, drive itself to a car park or charging area, take off, and fly you to your destination.
All it will need to land or take-off is a space measuring 20 x 20 metres.
Apart from that it will use conventional roads so there will minimal impact on the existing infrastructure. If you change your mind during your journey you’ll be able to select an alternative destination quickly and easily.
Buyers can expect to pay about $200,000 for the first models but the prices are expected to drop later. Another option will be a subscription service in which, for montly fee of $200 to $300, subscribers will have use of an ASKA for occassional trips.
There are several other Urban Air Mobility vehicle prototypes being tested at the moment. Aviation and aerospace companies are well aware that this market is growing fast and the skies above our cities will look a lot different in 10-20 years time.
The ASKA’s design, price point, and ease of entry into the current infrastructure gives it distinct advantages. To find out more about the ASKA visit the website www.askafly.com.
The Venturi’s design is unique and HopFlyt has a patent pending. It’s the only aircraft of its type that combines variable incidence wings with canard channels.
The combination of this unique design with other aerodynamic principles means that the aircraft is devoid of the traditional control surfaces; ailerons, elevators, rudder, or flaps. This means, of course, that there is less complexity and weight, and it also reduces the maintenance requirements.
Varying the incidence of the wings in flight and the powered canard design result in optimal lift at all phases of flight.
The Distributed Electrical Propulsion (DEP) allows for independent movement of all the wings and canards, while the contra-rotating propellers produce more thrust and reduced noise.
This eVTOL aircraft promises to provide a smooth ride at optimal speed within and between cities.
These innovations are the result of the many decades of experience in flight and aircraft design and testing within HopFlyt’s team. The founder and president, Rob Winston, has been a pilot for over 35 years, 22 of which were spent flying high-performance military aircraft. As well as being a very experienced pilot Rob has designed several aircraft including one of the world’s fastest seaplanes.
Lucille Winston is a co-founder and Vice President. She is a former NASA Test Engineer with experience developing environment-ready hardware for satellites, the Space Station and the Space Shuttle. Additionally, she has experience testing military aviation defensive, propulsion and reconnaissance systems.
Rory Feely is another co-founder, the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Test Pilot at HopFlyt. Rory is a military Experimental Test Pilot and Marine Corps aviator who has been flying high-performance aircraft for over 20 years. He has a BSc. in Physics (Honors), an MS in Aerospace Engineering and an MS in Technical Program Management.
HopFlyt’s stated mission is to “solve global traffic congestion & exhaust pollution with eVTOL technology”.
The Venturi looks set to fulfill that mission and I look forward to taking a ride in this aircraft in the years to come.
Hoversurf’s concept is one of convenience, safety, and speed, and with these goals in mind they have created a project called Formula. Their urban mobility vision is to create a flying car that is a combination of the best of copters and aircraft. Using patented Venturi engines they have created a vehicle that dispenses with the idea of tilting rotors or wings.
The vehicle’s systems operate independently of each other thus creating added safety features that allow for easy landing in the event of any mechanical failure. In addition, they’ve added a ballistic parachute as a backup emergency system.
The Formula vehicle is what’s known as a hybrid lift and cruise type that is inherently safer than tilt rotor versions and more efficient than multirotors.
Their patented Venturi engines also generate far less noise. Hoversurf are developing larger Formula 2 Drone Taxi and Formula 4 versions for 2-4 passengers. Their vision is to create a vehicle that can use the existing transport infrastructure instead of waiting for it to evolve to cope with other urban mobility designs.
Formula’s maximum flight time will be 1.2 hours or 186 miles cruising at 155 miles per hour.
You may already be aware of Hoversurf as they are also the company behind the Hoverbike.
The company vision is to givem people the freedom to fly in personal air vehicles without the restrictions and delays caused by traffic congestion and traffic lights.
Starting with the fact that a person’s most precious commodity is time they aspire to provide eVTOL vehicles that save time while being efficient and safe.
The Hoversurf team comprises individuals with a wide range of experience in aircraft design and build, software and programming skills, and project work from concept to completion.
The Opener BlackFly is an all electric VTOL personal air vehicle which is amphibious, energy efficient, transportable by road, and easy to assemble. During flight it has easy take-off and landing features, cruise control, and GPS position hold.
Like other designers of similar aircraft, Opener have focused on safety first and it’s not hard to see why when you consider the intended operating environment of these aircraft.
Some will be flying at lower levels over and between our busiest cities, so they need to be safe and easy to fly with several layers of redundancy as standard. To that end this aircraft will contain redundant motors, elevons, and batteries.
It will have three fail-safe flight systems and an isolated, distributed battery system. It will have a backup landing system in the form of a low-power glide mode and an optional ballistic parachute system (BPS).
Opener want to make the BlackFly easy to fly thus giving owners the ability to build confidence quickly.
The flying controls and instruments will be simple and intuitive to use. Comprehensive training will be available to owners, who can also be reassured by its soft landing and geofencing capabilities.
Although it won’t be necessary to obtain a full Private Pilots Licencse to operate a BlackFly in the USA, owners will need to omplete the FAA Private Pilot written examination and also complete the company-mandated vehicle familiarization and operator training.
There will even be a ‘return to home’ (RTH) button which will have a similar function to the one configured on DJI drones.
So far the Opener BlackFly prototypes have completed tens of thousands of test miles with payloads added.
The delays caused by traffic congestion and the stress created by wasted time and missed opportunities are frequent contributers to our collective health. The knock-on effect is less productivity, sub optimal health, and less quality of life.
The transport network of the future will free us from the tailbacks while using sustainable energy sources. The Opener BlackFly is a personal aerial vehicle option for the individuals who want to remove themselves from the traffic jams.
To find out more about the Opener company and the team behind the BlackFly visit their website at www.opener.aero and watch some of their videos on their YouTube channel. https://youtube.com/c/openeraero
XTI Aircraft’s TriFan 600
The six-seat TriFan 600 will have the speed, range and comfort of a luxury business aircraft, but with vertical take and landing (VTOL) capabilities.
The TriFan 600 will be flown by a pilot with space for up to five passengers.
Advanced avionics and safety features will provide computerside control for take-off and landing. Using three ducted fans, the TriFan 600 lifts off vertically and in seconds, the two wing fans rotate forward for a seamless transition to high-speed flight.
Within just 90 seconds, the airplane reaches cruise speed – where the lift is provided by the wings just like every other fixed-wing airplane. The fuselage-mounted fan, no longer needed, then closes up. The airplane then flies directly to its destination and reverses the process.
It lands vertically right where it needs to be – wherever there’s a clear helipad-sized paved surface.
It will travel at 300 knots (345 mph), with a range of up to 1,200 miles. The aircraft’s ceiling is 29,000 feet with a time to maximum altitude of 11 minutes.
The VTOL capabilities and the comparatively small footprint of this aircraft mean that it can provide site to site travel as opposed to airport to airport. Journey times are therefore shorter and remove the need for journeys by helicopter, car, or public transport to and from airports.
In May 2018 the XTI Aircraft Company announced that it had successfully completed the first test flights of its 65% scale prototype of the TriFan 600 VTOL aircraft.
The TriFan 600 prototype completed multiple takeoffs, hover, and landings, which tested and validated the electric motors, battery power system, ducted fan propulsion, flight controls, other electrical systems and instrumentation.
In July 2019 it was announced that the TriFan 600 will be fitted with GE’s Catalyst™ engine as the core of its hybrid-electric propulsion system.
XTI Aircraft have already received 80 orders for the TriFan 600, representing over a half billion dollars in future revenues.
VTOL capability for fixed-wing aircraft has been a major challenge for a hundred years. Ducted fan technologies have even been tried, but unsuccessfully.
XTI has now combined modern advances in technology — lighter and more powerful turbine engines, light carbon fiber materials, and incredible computer capabilities to enhance safety, stability and control.
These advances enabled XTI to overcome these historical challenges. The TriFan 600 embodies proven technologies in a revolutionary configuration.
It is both beautiful and highly functional. It is visually distinguished by a sleek exterior, and three ducted fans in place of large diameter helicopter rotors. The two ducted fans in the wings pivot and enable the aircraft to transition from hover to forward flight and back again for landing.
To find out more about this aircraft please visit xtiaircraft.com.