This emerging new mode of transportation will provide on-demand mobility in high density as well as remote areas, regional seamless mobility, and efficient and environmental friendly manned and unmanned passenger and cargo transportation as set out by Flightpath 2050. This new FS Theme can be seen as a contribution to the reduction of road traffic congestion.
Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is to improve the efficiency of transportation in urban as well as inter-urban areas while reducing the environmental impact. Taking into account the costs and the value of time saved by airborne solutions, UAM will offer attractive mobility on demand alternatives at an urban, suburban and inter-urban levels. The aim is to shift a part of medium and long distance single passenger car trips as well as short and medium distance cargo transports to small aircraft. In summary UAM sets out three main objectives: on-demand mobility in high density as well as remote areas, regional seamless mobility in terms of Flightpath 2050 goals, and efficient and environmental friendly unmanned cargo and piloted/autonomous passenger transportation.
Innovative solutions for UAM will address vehicle and system integration concepts with regard to the development and implementation of safe, efficient, integrated and sustainable air mobility systems over large metropolitan areas.
UAM faces a broad variety of challenges. A whole set of new technological and regulatory standards have to be developed to provide a solid basis for innovative and sustainable aerial solutions. The competitive concepts in this theme cover manned and unmanned system approaches in the areas mobility services for people, emergency services and freight. Challenges will be faced in the categories Autonomy, Safety, Societal Acceptance, Integration, Regulations, Simulation, and Testing, respectively. The joint research initiative of Future Sky Urban Air Mobility will focus on the following topics:
- UAM Class Aircraft Technology Advancement: The development of platform concepts for UAM in terms of feasibility studies and technological solutions will be the first step following the aim of safe, economic and environmentally friendly systems. Subsequently, in the process of unmanned aircraft technology advancement, topics such as aerodynamics, propulsion, energy management, flight envelope protection, mass and structure optimisation will be the basis for the developments of innovative vehicle configurations and of systems.
- Autonomy: Automation and autonomy are key technologies for visionary aerial mobility solutions; thus, these topics will need large efforts and investments for systems and vehicle validation (i.a. adaption, optimisation), for infrastructures (wind tunnels, hybrid/electric propulsion testing and validation, high performance computing etc.), simulation, unmanned cargo and piloted/autonomous passenger transport business models. Furthermore, automation and autonomy are linked to the field of artificial intelligence and digitalization thus cross fertilisation is needed.
- Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM): The future usage and thus also the economic success of unmanned and autonomous aircraft systems will depend to a decisive degree on the regulatory framework for this new airborne mobility. The integration of UAM systems—also covering the field of UTM/U-space—will need to focus on system certification, regulations, societal acceptance, and testing.
- Strategies for Mobility: Overarching mobility concepts will pave the way for solutions beyond the state-of-the-art in terms of mobility systems and urban planning at large.
- Public Acceptance and Environment: The consideration of socio-economic effects is of crucial importance for the future of urban mobility concepts. In addition, it is above all noise and weather aspects that have to be addressed both for ensuring public acceptance and in the development process of innovative vehicles and systems.
Two sub-themes will be established in order to cover the aspects of aircraft technology advancement as well as of automation and airspace integration of autonomous systems in a comprehensive manner.