Future traffic jams in the sky

       

Hyundai, Uber, EHang and Bell Helicopter have recently unveiled new projects that lend credibility to urban air mobility. The industry’s commitment to this new way of understanding travel is firm.

If all goes as planned, the Bell Nexus 4EX flight tests will begin this year in Dallas and Los Angeles. The trials will focus on the transport of materials, but it will be the first step so that in 2023 Bell Helicopter has the permits for the transfer of people.

The American company, like all those that have spent years investigating in the field of flying cars, still leaves a trace of uncertainty and talks about the “transport of tomorrow”, but the doubts are less and less. Aeromobility “is a fact”, says the CEO of Airbus, Guillaume Faury.

The aerospace giant Airbus has been leading the European Commission’s Urban Air Mobility initiative since 2016, created to encourage research in the sector and develop the necessary infrastructure for the smart cities of the future.Now becoming the gateway to Europe for EHang technology, which does not rule out offering small tourist flights as a side service while the project lasts.

For their price, for technical reasons and for pure logistics, these vehicles are destined from the beginning to shared use, both private and public. And that is the germ of another great project presented this year, in which Hyundai collaborates with Uber Elevate. The Korean brand presented at CES 2020 a vertical take-off and landing flying taxi (whose cabin for five passengers is very similar to that of a helicopter) with which, in turn, the American company will offer air transport services. They will be operational, they say, in 2023. The planned dates (and their inevitable delays) are however beginning to be the least: air mobility is definitely underway.

The one that refers to the laws is one of the cardinal questions of the dream of driving through the air; the other is the use that these cars will have. Very few motorists, in fact, will be able to drive them.

With years of development and slow but steady progress, air mobility continues to register projects. From the pioneers Volocopter, Vahana, AeroMobil, Lilium Jet or PAL-V Liberty (on sale since 2018 for 550,000 dollars) to the proposals closest to reverie or whim, such as the Ferrari FD One, a two-seater inspired by the formulas 1 of the fifties capable of flying at 500 km / h and with a range of three hours.

For their price, for technical reasons and for pure logistics, these vehicles are destined from the beginning to shared use, both private and public. And that is the germ of another great project presented this year, in which Hyundai collaborates with Uber Elevate. The Korean brand presented at CES 2020 a vertical take-off and landing flying taxi (whose cabin for five passengers is very similar to that of a helicopter) with which, in turn, the American company will offer air transport services. They will be operational, they say, in 2023. The planned dates (and their inevitable delays) are however beginning to be the least: air mobility is definitely underway.

Large companies such as Airbus, BMW (with its Skai Flying Car, with hydrogen and capacity for five occupants), Daimler (who sponsors the Volocopter project, one of the pioneers) and Porsche, allied with Boeing in the aeronautical adventure. The sports car maker is already taking positions so that its prototype, of which there are hardly any details, will lead the premium segment when the sector takes off (around 2025, according to Porsche Consulting). “The transportation industry has reached a turning point,” they argue at Bell Helicopter, where they work, in the words of its president, Mitch Snyder, to “solve the challenges of vertical transportation.” Airbus will start in Paris: it is already studying with the metropolitan transport entity RATP how to offer point-to-point services to citizens with its Pop.Up Next, developed together with Audi and Italdesign.

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