Aviation expert Terence Fontaine believes electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (eVTOLS) could revolutionize travel in Houston. According to him, passengers could hail an eVTOL from downtown vertiports similar to how taxis work.
Technology will save time on long journeys, yet may also present serious safety concerns.
Companies across industries are currently working to build aircraft capable of fulfilling our dream of flying taxis, from established aerospace manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus to ride-sharing giant Uber Technologies (which sold its Uber Elevate division to Joby Aviation in 2020) as well as numerous start-ups.
Developers of electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOL) claim their vehicles will be safe enough to operate without human pilots, yet need to demonstrate this in a rigorous environment. As such, they have implemented various sensors and collision avoidance systems into their experimentation; also testing how sensitive their vehicles are to wind gusts while investigating different building shapes to minimize this effect as well as working on flight-stability technologies.
As well as greater safety measures, eVTOLs will require updated infrastructure that can support them on their routes. Vertiports equipped with charging stations, landing pads and takeoff pads must also be available; to meet this challenge effectively requires close cooperation between industry players and government bodies.
UAM could bring an end to traffic congestion with vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs), significantly quieter and cheaper than helicopters. Yet much needs to happen before air taxis become reality – for instance passing safety tests as well as being capable of operating in dense urban environments.
To address these concerns, this paper presents a method using spatio-temporal indicators to assess dynamic taxi-based accessibility measures that differ from private vehicle measures. This can be achieved by combining passenger waiting time with travel times impacted by taxi fare rules to create an attractive function from both static and dynamic perspectives.
Hurtado believes the technology could help reduce carbon emissions by replacing cars and buses on busy streets with scooters and electric bikes, but she worries that such services would exclude low-income neighborhoods and they must provide funding mechanisms so all individuals have equal access to services or else this solution won’t be sustainable.
One of the greatest challenges facing flying taxi services is reliability. To increase it, they must standardize time buffers between reservations as well as implement lean and six sigma methods to reduce vehicle maintenance times. Furthermore, they should devise ways of compensating customers when their rides are delayed – this will increase customer satisfaction and retention rates.
Many companies are betting on air taxis as the future of urban mobility, including aviation giants Boeing and Airbus, tech titans such as Uber (who sold their Uber Elevate division to Joby Aviation in 2020) and automotive firms Toyota and Hyundai.
NASA researchers are taking steps to make air taxis more reliable by filling gaps in knowledge about urban wind conditions. Drones equipped with sensors have been flown near buildings in order to measure how wind gusts or air swirling around rotors or propellers is affected by nearby structures; this information can then be used to improve aircraft and computer-based simulation performance.
Airbus recently predicted that an electric flying taxi ride will cost “the equivalent of a regular taxi.” This technology could help alleviate traffic congestion and decrease vehicle numbers on roadways; additionally, people could live further away from cities while taking air taxis into work daily for greater savings in both time and money.
EHang, a Chinese manufacturer of eVTOLs, plans to begin sightseeing flights in Guangdong by year’s end. Other major companies with deep pockets have bet on this technology as an answer for future transportation; Germany’s Lilium has attracted partners like Honeywell and NetJets while seeking a reverse merger with a special-purpose acquisition company valued at $3.3 billion. If these technologies become practical however, they still pose several obstacles – these technologies must integrate into existing air traffic control structures and communication frequencies while finding space for larger facilities called vertiports where aircraft can park and charge.