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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ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. 39 April/May 2018 unmanned systems inside Even though the vehicles will f ly autono- mously, those deployed as part of Uber Elevate will have pilots at first to handle any unfore- seen situations that may arise during a trip. "We'll be able to generate the data we need to make the case to eventually take the pilots out. It's the same concept as with self-driving cars. You have a safety driver," Prevot said. "Certain routes will be less complex, and in those in- stances we'll be able to make the safety case for f lying the aircraft without a pilot sooner." Taking the pilot out makes it possible to add another passenger, Prevot said, which helps keep prices down—which is vital to making UAM successful. "A lot of people see Volocopters and think they're a new toy for the rich," Treeck said. "We want this to become part of the public transpor- tation system, so it must be affordable. It's not like a private jet, but more like the cost of a cab." THE INFRASTRUCTURE A UTM system is critical to making f lying air taxis possible, Kopardekar said, and must be a solution that doesn't burden the current air traffic management systems while handling large-scale, high-density operations. That's one of the pieces NASA is working on and is Kopardekar's area of focus. To alleviate the burden, Uber Elevate plans to develop a corridor where they manage their own f leets that are separated from other air- craft, Prevot said. Volocopter intends to do the same, and will establish a route in the next two to three years. That first route won't be a full system but a point-to-point connection that allows people to experience the aircraft, Treeck said. They also expect to receive a special license for a corridor that's reserved for Volocopter. "The vehicles will have to integrate into un- controlled airspace occupied by drones and other aircraft, but we'll also have f lights to airports so they'll have to integrate into con- trolled airspace operations as well," Prevot said. "Combining those two in a smooth way is a specific challenge that's going to have to be addressed. We need to scale without burden- ing air traffic control." These aircraft won't be taking off and land- ing on city streets or in parking lots, Thomsen said; they'll f ly from vertiport to vertiport where passengers will either walk, take a ground vehicle, or catch the subway to reach their final destination. That means for air taxis to become part of the transportation system, vertiports will need to be created. Vertiports may be placed on existing build- ings or even integrated into our highways, Drennan said. In some cases, sky ports will be part of the designs of new buildings. The UAM infrastructure will likely be a combination of both old and new, with the network starting out small and growing over time. For this all to work smoothly, a mechanism needs to be developed so passengers can easily UAM WILL REDUCE CONGESTION, REDUCE TRANSPORTATION DELAYS AND ENABLE ON-DEMAND TRAVEL TO DELIVER CARGO AND QUICKLY MOVE PEOPLE THROUGH THE AIR." " Parimal Kopardekar, senior technologist for air transportation systems, NASA Ames Research Center

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