Flying taxis: The rise of the urban flight path


Flying taxis

Boarding a flying taxi downtown that takes you to the airport sounds appealing, doesn’t it? But it’s easier said than done. For example, security is a significant challenge facing on-demand mobility — it’s a common occurrence for autonomous cars to make headlines when an accident occurs. This contributes to the lack of trust many people have in smart vehicles, including driverless flying taxis. At the 2018 Movin’On Summit, Aéroport de Paris’ Charles Telitsine, Thales’ Olivier Réa and ETS’ René Jr. Landry shared their views on how to enable air mobility in urban environments.

Even if commuter airlines are 6.7 times safer than cars, René Jr. Landry says that in order to convince the population to adopt these vehicles, it is necessary to tackle some complex considerations, such as:

  • Airspace capacity and efficiency
  • Community accessibility
  • Future consumer behaviors
  • Global climate considerations
  • National, regional and local economics
  • Regulations
  • Societal and demographic shifts


UX and the urban air mobility

For on-demand air mobility to be democratic, Mr. Landry adds that drones should be user-friendly. His research on automated vehicles focuses on ease of certification, affordability, safety, ease of use, efficiency, lifecycle and emissions.

He shares four recommendations from the NASA strategic framework for on-demand air mobility for a simplified vehicle operation and airspace integration:

  1. Efficient on-demand routing and sequencing will have to go along highly augmented flight and trajectory control
  2. Reliable automated systems detecting, sensing and avoiding accidents to reduce human intervention, but still allow it
  3. NextGen airspace Systems to accommodate more vehicles
  4. Certifications for autonomous operations


Downtown? Hop in for a flight

Charles Telitsine presented the Aéroport de Paris goals to include new mobility with robotics and drones. As of today, airports are a no-fly zone for drones, but this will likely change. Their strategy sees a digitalized airport, personalized services, the development of new services, the improvement of connectivity and the implementation of automation processes. In other words, their goal is to create a smart, safe and efficient airport.

To get there, urban air mobility requires the deployment of ground infrastructures like air traffic services as well as communications, surveillance and navigation aids. Experts will need to choose an airspace structure strategy between free flights and corridors. They’ll also have to manufacture safe and suitably equipped drones. And in alignment with René Jr. Landry’s idea, a consistent set of standards is essential along with accurate and reliable data from trusted data sources.

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