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What Does It Take for Urban Air Mobility to Be Mass Transport?

Developments in electric power train, battery, and sensor technology are opening up new areas of application for air vehicles. More than one hundred companies worldwide are currently working on the implementation of the urban air mobility (UAM) concept, the use of vertical take-off and landing aircraft for intercity and intracity passenger transport.

In order to understand the potential transport performance of UAM, Bauhaus Luftfahrt pursues an agent-based modelling approach, since – in contrast to the classical four-step approach – agent-based modelling enables dynamic agent decisions during simulation. Thus, new mobility services, such as on-demand, sharing, or pooling, which are the basis of most UAM concepts, can be analysed.

The transport simulation framework MATSim has been extended by a UAM module that enables the definition of UAM infrastructure and vehicles and allows the agents of the simulation to integrate UAM as a means of transport into their daily mobility behaviour. Therefore, UAM is simulated in a coherent urban traffic model, in which UAM cooperates and competes with ground-based traffic systems.

This simulation capability is used to perform sensitivity studies on UAM parameters that provide estimates of UAM traffic volumes and the resulting transport system-wide effects. Thus, essential requirements at vehicle, infrastructure, and operational level can be derived.

  • Sensitivity of demand for urban air mobility: Given UAM mission spectrums of below 10 km range, ensuring short passenger process times proofed to have a more significant impact on passenger numbers than increasingly fast UAM flight speeds.Sensitivity of demand for urban air mobility: Given UAM mission spectrums of below 10 km range, ensuring short passenger process times proofed to have a more significant impact on passenger numbers than increasingly fast UAM flight speeds.
  • Systematic placement of UAM infrastructure: Through a systematic approach of superimposing spatial factors – like existing helipads, important transportation hubs, and touristic points of interest – suitable locations for UAM infrastructure are defined.Systematic placement of UAM infrastructure: Through a systematic approach of superimposing spatial factors – like existing helipads, important transportation hubs, and touristic points of interest – suitable locations for UAM infrastructure are defined.