Future of Mobility: Urban air mobility

Zipline package drop

What’s next in transportation?

The Future of Mobility series collects the perspectives of top U researchers and other national experts. In 17 articles, the authors scan the horizon and reflect on critical transportation topics. Each article recommends action steps for public officials and policymakers.

CTS is highlighting the articles over the course of the year. This month, we explore two aviation-related articles:  Safety and Urban Air Mobility by Demoz Gebre-Egziabher and Advanced Air Mobility by Susan Shaheen and Adam Cohen.

Autonomous aircraft and drones that can move people and goods in new ways are coming to our cities, writes Gebre-Egziabher. Often referred to as urban air mobility (UAM), these new transportation concepts are the flying equivalent of the autonomous car—and they raise just as many important questions about safety, use, and operations. Local communities and agencies are stakeholders that must have a say in safety and provide clear guidance to those developing technologies for UAM, he says.

Shaheen and Cohen write that aviation is undergoing rapid change around the world. A variety of technological advancements and industry investments in electrification, alternative fuels, automation, vertical take-off and landing aircraft, uncrewed aircraft systems, and air traffic management are enabling innovations in aircraft designs, services, and business models. They recommend driving the industry forward with an emphasis on social and environmental benefits, including humanitarian, aeromedical, and emergency response.


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Michael McCarthy