The advent and uptake in unmanned air mobility, like with electric vehicles, will be heavily dependent on the infrastructure that is put in place to allow safe and coordinated flight.
Both Uber and Amazon have explored investment in technology that allows flight management and control. The most mature unmanned aerial systems (UAS) travel by line of sight over short distances, mainly for surveillance and photography.
“All drones that travel further distances require unmanned traffic management (UTM), a system of radar, beacons, flight-management services, communication systems, and servers that coordinate, organize, and manage all UAS traffic in the airspace.”
In urban areas UTM will need to be able to regularly update vehicles for sudden weather changes, obstructions and hazards.
Beyond the traffic management element, air mobility solutions will need to cover three core infrastructural elements:
- Helipads, that facilitate take-off and landing,
- Storage for packages and deliveries,
- Charging stations to recharge vehicles.
It is important that Governments, investors and asset owners come to agreement on how they envisage the future developing for this technology and where investment and technology needs to be developed and scaled-up. While large-scale use of such technology is still some way off, the early steps in planning and investment are taking place now.
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