Writer: Keitaro H.
Visual: Kailani W.
Editor: Gisele F.
As technology keeps on developing, there will certainly be innovations that will startle some people. One technological innovation that we could be seeing soon is a flying car. Imagine a world with no traffic and no overcrowding at train stations.
Flying taxis seem like a viable solution to many of our current transportation problems. This traffic-less future is what over 100 companies are working to bring to reality. These companies are trying to produce an electric vehicle take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Ultimately, these pseudo aircraft offer multiple benefits. For example, like a helicopter, a flying taxi doesn’t need a runway; however, unlike a helicopter, it promises to be inexpensive and quiet. One wonders why any proposed taxi service using this type of aircraft won’t be in the mass market until the 2030’s. The reason for the delay might come down to these essential questions.
Where will they take off and land?
A vehicle that takes off and lands needs somewhere to do so, as well as charge and swap batteries. The problem with this necessity is the lack of convenient spaces in cities. This is exemplified in especially large cities where space is already limited. The first solution that comes to mind are heliports. These pre-existing heliports may already be scattered throughout the city, but most are not ideally located; nor are able to cope with the ensuing traffic around it. With this in mind, the prevailing idea is to construct more heliports on top of buildings. However, doing this comes with a variety of issues. Firstly, though some buildings have suitable rooftops, they are very expensive to use. Then, a lack of industry regulations also affects the creation of new heliports.
Who will monitor these aircraft?
With multiple flying vehicles soaring through the sky, the obvious concern is the issue of monitoring the air taxis. The proposed idea is to expand the capabilities of Air traffic control systems. These systems already take care of helicopter activity over cities and could very well handle an abundant number of eVTOL aircraft in the air. However, if eVTOL becomes as successful as it aims to be, there will most certainly be a need to create a new section under airspace management.
What is the Future of Aerial Taxis?
The numerous benefits offered by this revolutionary idea has led companies to develop the needed technology. The most prominent firm currently working on the aerial taxi is Uber. Uber, being the ride hailing giant it is, revealed their future network of electrically powered flying taxis at the annual Uber Elevate summit. In this summit, Uber demonstrated their newest system wherein passengers effortlessly open an app and then hop on a lift to the nearest heliport. As early as 2020, the app will be in full operation in Los Angeles and Dallas, USA.