What contribution can aviation make to urban mobility?
The concept of using vertical take-off and landing aircraft – so-called VTOL aircraft – for inner-city mobility increasingly becomes of public, industry, and research interest. Even though the idea of airborne mobility using VTOL vehicles is not novel, as helicopter-based taxi services have been and are still existent in metropolitan areas worldwide, they only cover a marginal niche in the portfolio of mobility solutions in cities. With technological progress in the field of electric propulsion, as well as autonomy and sensor and communication technologies, these new types of VTOL aircraft – often also referred to as airborne taxis – now promise considerable cost and noise reduction potentials. In addition, travel times could be drastically reduced by a significant increase in transport speed. However, the necessary performance characteristics of VTOL aircraft, the analyses of possible integration in interaction with other modes of transport as well as their effects on urban planning and development are not yet fully understood. Therefore, Bauhaus Luftfahrt is developing fundamental methods for the design, transport modelling, and socio-economic evaluation of such transport concepts in cities.
Key issues here are the architecture and efficiency of vehicles, the potential traffic performance in urban transport systems, and the impact on the general and social well-being with the aim of using public transport – in contrast to today’s niche traffic for time-critical, wealthy users.
- Elements of urban air mobility modelling: For a comprehensive picture of urban traffic systems, different data levels have to be combined into one transport model. Only then is it possible to analyse the effects of new transport concepts effectively.
- Compiled published data of air vehicles for urban air mobility: The diagram illustrates the heterogeneity of the objectives for this new aircraft class. Longer ranges and higher cruising speeds, combined with VTOL, also lead to higher system complexity.