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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44 April/May 2018 unmanned systems inside SPECIAL REPORT NASA TECHNOLOGY Not all the challenges are technological in nature. There's also social acceptance. Before the public will be willing to trust these aircraft, they'll need to know they're safe, and that they won't be a source of noise pollution. Many peo- ple are skeptical that f lying taxis are actually feasible, so it's important to start educating the public now. "We have a big task to overcome in prepar- ing citizens for a future with f lying vehicles," Thomsen said. "We're approaching that through citizen engagement and public debate. We're getting citizens involved before the tech- nology is ready." THE FUTURE UAM is going to create an entire new industry, Prevot said. The systems will need to be manu- factured at a scale that's similar to the car in- dustry, while many other sectors will also ben- efit from this new class of aircraft. Sky ports will require a lot of power, generating business for utility companies, while the need for a new infrastructure will create opportunities for the real estate industry. And this all could happen sooner than you might think. Uber Elevate, for example, plans to begin its initial f light demonstrations in 2020, with commercial operations slated to start in select cities in 2023. Others plan to have their systems ready for prime time in the early to mid-2020s. Treeck expects air taxis to be a common sight in major cities in the next 10 to 15 years, with the first pilot programs to be up and running in about three. As large, well-known companies continue to invest in UAM, more people will see the many benefits it can pro- vide, whether it's cutting an hour and a half commute to 15 minutes or reducing emissions. "It's not a question of whether it's coming, it's a question of when it's coming," Treeck said. "It's going to come f irst to megaci- ties where there's no more space to provide ground transportation or build roads or tun- nels. Think of Tokyo as an example. This tech- nology will first be accepted in areas where you can't provide more mobility with the means you already have." CERTAIN ROUTES WILL BE LESS COMPLEX, AND IN THOSE INSTANCES WE'LL BE ABLE TO MAKE THE SAFETY CASE FOR FLYING THE AIRCRAFT WITHOUT A PILOT SOONER." Tom Prevot, director Airspace Systems, Uber Elevate " Photo courtesy of Uber Elevate. Looking Ahead 2023 The year Uber plans to start integrating air taxis into the fi rst pilot cities.

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