Coventry to get the world’s first airport for flying cars and delivery drones
Coventry is to become the home of the world’s first airport for electric flying cars and autonomous delivery drones, it has been announced.
The futuristic Air-One transport hub, next to the Ricoh Arena, will be launched later this year.
It will showcase air taxi and delivery drone technology that will ultimately transport people and cargo across cities – in scenes not far removed from sci-fi cartoon The Jetsons.
Urban Air Port revealed it chose Coventry for the first site due to its location in the heart of the UK and also because it is a historic hub for the automobile and aerospace industries.
It believes the city has a pool of people and skills that can support the manufacturing industries of the future as urban air mobility takes off.
In addition it says Coventry’s central location provides easy access within four hours to most parts of the country.
The city will be part of an an urban air mobility partnership that has won UK Government backing.
The project was revealed as a winner of the Government’s Future Flight Challenge to develop aviation infrastructure and systems that enable the next generation of electric and autonomous air vehicles.
Air-One is part of a global drive to revolutionise urban transport – allowing air taxis and electric drones to land and recharge, helping to reduce congestion, cut air pollution, and contribute to a zero-carbon future.
The zero-emission airport has been designed by Urban Air Port and can be installed in a matter of days.
Initially it will be used to help the public understand the new technology, with Malloy Aeronautics, a UK-based drone developer, demonstrating the use of large cargo drones at the site.
Coventry University is a research partner in the Air-One site, which will host live demonstrations of manned and unmanned Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft
The Coventry airport will be the first of many, with Urban Air Port aiming to install more than 200 similar sites worldwide over the next five years.
Its ambitions are based on NASA predictions that urban air mobility in the US alone could be worth up to $500 billion in the near future.
The US space agency also says that the only thing holding the idea back is a lack of infrastructure.
Looking at the bigger picture, the urban air mobility revolution is estimated to be worth almost £1 trillion over the next 20 years as companies and authorities invest in eVTOL aircraft and the required infrastructure.
Ricky Sandhu, founder and executive chairman of Urban Air Port, said: “Cars need roads. Trains need rails. Planes need airports. eVTOLs will need Urban Air Ports.
“Over 100 years ago, the world’s first commercial flight took off, creating the modern connected world.
“Urban Air Port will improve connectivity across our cities, boost productivity and help the UK to take the lead in a whole new clean global economy.
“Flying cars used to be a futuristic flight of fancy. Air-One will bring clean urban air transport to the masses and unleash a new airborne world of zero emission mobility.”
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Coventry City Council cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, said: “We are already a city that is helping to shape the future of electric transport and this is yet another ground-breaking project that puts Coventry at the forefront of new technologies.
“It highlights how the council is working alongside a range of organisations to help shape a better, greener future.”
The Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group has chosen Urban Air Port as its partner to support the global growth of this new sector.
The South Korean car maker plans to create its own eVTOL aircraft and support the broader urban air mobility eco-system.
Hyundai Motor Group is supporting the development of Air-One as part of its plan to commercialise its aircraft by 2028.
Pamela Cohn, chief operating officer for the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group, said: “As we advance our eVTOL aircraft programme, development of supporting infrastructure is imperative.
“Air-One is a unique project that is set to help lead the way in developing a robust, accessible and intermodal infrastructure network for future mobility.
“We are excited to be part of this partnership in the UK and look forward to working together to create community impact and opportunity through safe, affordable and human-centred mobility solutions.”
The compact airports, which can easily be dismantled and reassembled at other sites, can also be used for disaster and emergency relief.
Oriol Badia, CEO of Malloy Aeronautics, said: “It is a key goal for Malloy – to introduce unmanned air logistics into an urban environment and merge it with supporting infrastructure that is flexible and resilient, hosting intelligent operating systems and state of the art innovation
“Air-One provides the ability to service multiple transport requirements of the future – from disaster relief to essential and everyday supplies for citizens across the UK.”
As well as the investment from Hyundai, Urban Air Port has been awarded a £1.2 million grant from UK Research and Innovation’s Future Flight Challenge.
Its director Gary Cutts said: “Urban Air Port has the potential to revolutionise cities across the world, making them more connected, cleaner and accelerating our green economic recovery.
“This project epitomises the purpose of the Future Flight Challenge fund – it is innovation at its finest – and will help to position the UK at the vanguard of electric urban air mobility.”
Enda Mullen – Courtesy Coventry Live
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