Inside Unmanned Systems

APR-MAY 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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35 April/May 2018 unmanned systems inside ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. NASA and a variety of big firms, including Airbus and Bell Helicopter, are working to develop a transportation system that will ease road congestion in cities and change how we travel from point A to point B. But while air taxis that whisk passengers to their destinations or efficiently deliver cargo could someday be the norm, there are several challenges to overcome before we get there. by Renee Knight A s road travel in large cities be- comes increasingly congested, many believe there has to be a better way for the public to safely travel to work and other destinations—and that better way is a concept known as Urban Air Mobility, or UAM. Until recently, UA M seemed like a futuristic idea that wasn't likely to take shape any time soon. But over the last year or so, major players have started de- veloping air taxis as well as the infrastruc- ture necessary for these vehicles to safely transport passengers and cargo. NASA, Airbus, Uber, Boeing's Aurora Flight Sciences, Bell Helicopter and Volocopter are among the many heavy hitters making progress in the UAM space. "UAM will reduce congestion, reduce transportation delays and enable on-de- mand travel to deliver cargo and quickly move people through the air," said Parimal Kopardekar, senior technologist for air transportation systems at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. "It started with using drones to carry small cargo pack- ages, perform search and rescue missions or for traffic monitoring, but with the excite- ment and interest in electric vertical take- off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, we're now looking at moving people and larger cargo through the air." For the last few years, NASA and oth- ers have been working to develop an un- manned air traffic management (UTM) system to safely integrate unmanned aircraft system (UAS) into the National Airspace and enable beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) f lights. They're now looking to expand that same construct to UAM, giving these vehicles the ability to exchange information about their location and to avoid each other while they're in the sky, Kopardekar said. Having that system in place is a vital piece of UAM, but is just part of what needs to be accomplished before air taxis can routinely f ly passengers to their des- tinations. Regulations, battery life and creating the right infrastructure are all important considerations, as is develop- ing autonomous aircraft that can safely, and quietly, carry people and packages to where they need to go. Catching a Very Local Flight Urban Air Mobility:

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