The Jetsons, an animated television show that aired in 1962-1963 and 1985-1987, revolved around a futuristic premise. Though its time was short-lived, the show would go on to have a lasting impact for generations to come because of its technological advancements that awed viewers, namely, the flying cars.
Since then, transportation has changed significantly to include higher efficiency, varying aesthetic options, and streamlined technology. This is especially true when looking at an emerging sub-sector, sustainable transport, which has yielded the likes of electric vehicles, sustainable aviation fuel, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Regardless, the time has finally come when we are closer to flying cars than ever before. This proximity to success has yielded another impressive design and recent announcement, an airport dedicated entirely to flying cars and drones, the first of its kind in the world.
One Step Closer
The Urban AirPort project is currently under construction in the United Kingdom with the goal of housing flying taxis and drones by the end of 2022.
The facility will be called Air-One. It has recently received government backing to help continue its goal of removing "the largest single constraint to sustainable air mobility" and cutting “congestion and air pollution from passenger and cargo transport."
The airport will supposedly emit zero emissions, be completely off-grid, and have top-of-the-line security. In addition, the building will be marketed to the following sectors: "passenger air taxi services, autonomous logistics drones, disaster emergency management, and defense operations and logistics."
Air-One hasn't gone into any more details regarding the specifics of the clientele base, whether it will be private or governmental; although Ricky Sandhu, Urban Air Port's founder and CEO, hinted at governmental involvement. "We've started having conversations with the military, who in the event of a natural disaster could use the Urban Air Port to provide instant connectivity."
This type of airport is poised to be the first of many, as the growth of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOLs) will require adequate infrastructure for support.
For now, the structure is currently underway. Still, with plans to open as soon as November, it could help to catapult the world into a new era of transportation. After Air-One's completion, the company plans to "install over 200 zero-emission electric airports globally within the next five years".
"Over a hundred years ago
, the world's first commercial flight took off, creating the modern connected world. Urban Air Port will improve connectivity across our cities, boost productivity and help the UK to take the lead in a whole new clean global economy."
get ahead of the curve for the next wave of electric mobility and get the infrastructure in now."
The Future Is Here
Electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOLs) are like helicopters. The main difference is that the latter is meant to act as a flying taxi and be far more accessible in taking clients’ short distances. In addition, eVTOLs are smaller, easier to operate, and more personable, making them a contender for the latest form of transport.
Another main benefit to eVTOLs is that they are battery-run, making them an eco-friendlier alternative to fossil fuels. They will also help alleviate congested roads, which can help reduce emissions and health problems due to increased exhaust exposure. Since these machines are in the early stages, continued studies and testing will need to be conducted to understand their long-term environmental impact.
Nonetheless, major companies such as Boeing and NASA have taken an interest in this new wave of technology, with the former investing upwards of $450 million into developing eVTOLs.
These flying taxis may sound futuristic, but they are closer to reality than many may think. Some models have already been built, and fewer have even successfully undergone trial runs consisting of hovering in place.
Adjacent to the construction and refinement of eVTOLs are companies working to create adequate infrastructure, such as the Urban AirPort project. Initiatives such as these can further help to support the research and growth of flying taxis.
Over time and once eVTOLs become more streamlined, they will likely only be accessible by a select few who have undergone sufficient training and can afford the machines. This will probably make their rollout safer and more structured to allow for long-term success.
Nevertheless, Air-One's construction can help inspire and encourage many other similar airports around the globe and aid in the continued development of this transportation option.