The Air Mobility Concept: An Urgent Transportation Necessity
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The Air Mobility Concept: An Urgent Transportation Necessity

Photo by:   Marcos Rosales
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By Marcos Rosales - Romesa Business & Trading Solutions


We are in a  dizzying environment where, at a global level, the need for efficient, economical and sustainable transport is becoming increasingly essential. Governments and companies have developed a kind of alliance where the objective,  particularly for large cities and their constantly growing population, is to have a mobility system that guarantees the proper use of time and the maximization of communication routes. 

It is here where the challenge becomes even more aggressive. As communication routes, mostly of a terrestrial nature, increasingly collapse  and as  the population density of cities  grows by leaps and bounds, both the means of transport and the aforementioned communication routes are already insufficient. The medium-height air space —  and the concept of “urban air mobility” — is a potential  solution to transport the population.

The global urban air mobility market is projected to grow from US$3.01 billion in 2021 to US$8.91 billion by 2028 at a CAGR of 16.77 percent in the 2021-2028 period. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with urban mobility witnessing a negative demand shock across all regions facing the pandemic. Based on different economic analyses, the global market shows a reduction of 18 percent in 2020 as compared to the average year on year growth during 2017-2019. The sudden rise in CAGR is attributable to this market’s demand and growth returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.

As mentioned, rising urbanization and traffic conditions are pushing ground transportation networks to their limits. Urban air mobility has the potential to develop a transportation system that is faster, cleaner, safer, and more interconnected. Autonomous aerial vehicles are no longer science fiction as projects and tests are underway worldwide. The UAM (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) sector, which is still in its early phases, has seen significant growth, with over US$1 billion invested in the first few months of 2020, most notably by Toyota and Guangzhou EHang Intelligent Technology Co. A variety of media have reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working with more than 15 eVOLT (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft manufacturers. Within the next three to five years, various manufacturers around the world plan to begin commercial passenger operations.

Globally, rising traffic congestion  is driving the demand for speedier intra city transportation choices. This is likely to increase the focus on aerial vehicle  technology development and R&D investment, with several startups and aerospace companies considering it a high-growth market. As a result, such factors are projected to fuel the sector’s  growth over the forecast period. 

Urban air mobility saw a setback when  the COVID-19 outbreak damaged this market significantly. The outbreak resulted in lockdowns in several developed and developing countries. All the research and development operations were halted due to the economic crisis. These factors have created a negative impact on market growth. In addition, the pandemic had a significant impact on the aviation sector in 2020, which resulted in a rippling effect on the UAM sector as most of the prominent participants in this market are directly or indirectly connected to the aviation industry.

However, the benefits of this technology remain. These include significant time savings as  UAMs represent a safe and efficient air transportation system where passenger-carrying air taxis can operate faster and can do sharp turns easily. Furthermore, UAM air taxis are mostly electric or fuel-cell powered. As a result, they contribute to the reduction of pollution in the atmosphere.

The use of autonomous drones in urban air mobility is intended to provide benefits such as lower pollution, shorter travel times, and decreasing demand on current transportation infrastructure.

UAM is expected to deliver the ultimate solution to these environmental challenges and overcome the drawbacks associated with ground vehicles. A battery-powered UAM vehicle will replace existing internal combustion engine cars, reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality in metropolitan areas.

Political, economic, social, technological, and legal barriers must be overcome by all countries adopting urban air transportation to encourage better reach and adaptability. Market operations should also be economically scaled to suit high-demand operations with low fixed costs. Here is where the renowned c “triple helix” concept of academia, industry, and government, all together, must make a significant investment.

Many firms have designed and tested enabling parts of the UAM idea in recent years, including prototypes of eVOLT capability vehicles, operating concepts, and prospective business models. Although the convergence of multiple elements may enable UAM, legal and regulatory constraints may prevent it from becoming widespread.

Like other disruptive technologies, UAM has yet to reach a stage where innovation is not hindered, and the public is sufficiently safeguarded by federal, state, and local governments. 

Let's see if the present needs can make UAM technology a well-received reality.

Photo by:   Marcos Rosales

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