In the air mobility industry, drones work as VTOL aircraft. These vehicles take off, hover and land vertically, so they do not need a runway. Passenger UAVs are in the prototyping phase, but these offer a glimpse into the way we might move about in metropolitan spaces in the future. Many companies are developing prototypes, and are keen on getting a chunk of the future urban air mobility market.
Helicopter is the most popular vertical take-off and landing aircraft, but it does not meet the daily urban transportation requirements. Passenger drones have to be very energy efficient. As opposed to choppers, almost every drone prototype is electric or has considerably reduced emissions. However, to be apt for urban air mobility, these should be much quieter than choppers and strive for no emissions. What’s more, the future drone mobility strategy is to grow an entirely autonomous aircraft transportation solution.
Passenger drones combine the best features of self-driving technology, drone engineering and ridesharing intelligence. These drones are seen as a powerful new transportation technology that could disrupt the segment. If VTOL aircraft fly in a way that these could transport numerous individuals, these could reduce congestion in urban places.
Challenges Lying Ahead
The challenges around drones are broad, plus there is skepticism regarding whether these will be as commercially successful as forward-thinkers aspire. We are yet to know whether these drones will mature, and going by some logistical factors, these might be adopted only after 2025. It might even take longer for the industry to make the most of these vehicles.
For a unified traffic management (UTM) system, we will have to form an extensive network of ports, specifically for landing and take-off, battery and parking stations. Besides being very expensive, in overcrowded places without enough room, infrastructure could also pose a logistical challenge. However, the quick pace of advancement and heavy investment from some companies will likely help overcome these hurdles.
Bigger challenges are to break the psychological hurdles that people might encounter when using drones, and concerns regarding their safety. Drones utilized for mobility will have to conform to broad safety requirements, plus every operation will be very thoroughly scrutinized. To overcome the fear of flying in an autonomous aircraft, people will need assurance from manufacturers and regulatory authorities, plus extensive safety records and testing.