LA and World Economic Forum partner on urban air roadmap

24th September 2020 Christopher Carey

The World Economic Forum (WEF) and the City of Los Angeles have released a roadmap to support the roll-out of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) in cities globally.

Principles of the Urban Sky has been developed over the past nine months through a collaboration of more than 50 manufacturers, service providers, infrastructure developers, academics, community organisations and government planners.

It sets out seven guiding principles for UAM: sustainability, safety, equity of access, low noise, multimodal connectivity, local workforce development and purpose-driven data sharing.

Harrison Wolf, Project Lead, Aerospace and Drones, World Economic Forum, told Cities Today: “Technology is moving at such a pace that it will outpace policy development very soon.

“If cities, regions and even national governments are to be ready for this aerial revolution, they have to start [preparing] today. ”

According to NASA, UAM is likely to be a commercially viable market for air metro services by 2028, assuming the regulations and policies are in place to accommodate it.

“LA and cities all over the world saw the disruption caused by micromobility and they want to be part of designing the next generation of transportation rather than being disrupted by new technologies,” Wolf added.

Credit: World Economic Forum

LA’s sometimes fraught relationship with micromobility has been well documented, with the need for control over how firms operate and particularly the data generated from operations becoming a priority for its department of transportation.

Along with safety and sustainability concerns, the roadmap highlights the importance of the social impact of the new technology, with equity of access being a key consideration.

In a statement, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said: “Even in the face of COVID-19 today, our eyes are fixed on the horizon of a reimagined tomorrow, where urban air mobility is a central part of a safe, sustainable, equitable future.”

Urban air mobility taking off?

The concept of urban air mobility – particularly electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) models – has grown substantially over the past few years, with several trials demonstrating the potential for a new environmentally friendly and flexible mode of transport.

This week auto company Hyundai announced it is working alongside Incheon Airport in South Korea to accelerate the development of UAM, with a view to commercialising their concept by 2028.

It comes just months after the Korean government announced the Korean UAM Roadmap, which included the UAM Grand Challenge – a joint demonstration project aimed at studying the construction and operation of vertiports.

Globally, regulatory bodies have been playing catch up for the most part, however, and the COVID-19 crisis has caused some companies, such as Boeing And Airbus to pull back from the market.

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