In what some people have seen as an early April Fools jest and others have assumed to be an extract from a 1950s Sci-fi comic, plans have been announced for the world’s first airport for commercial delivery drones and flying taxis in the city.
Electric air taxis and autonomous drones will operate from a site next to the Ricoh Arena, which is currently a car park. The futuristic Air-One transport hub will be launched later this year. It will showcase air taxi and delivery drone technology that will ultimately transport people and cargo across cities.
Urban Air Port Air-One has been selected as a winner of the UK 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 a world-first fully-operational hub for future electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft – such as cargo drones and air taxis – to be launched in Coventry later this year.
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 ambition is to reduce congestion, cut air pollution and holistically decarbonise transport while providing seamless passenger journeys and deliveries.
The Hyundai Motor Group are partner in the project . The South Korean company plans to create its own eVTOL aircraft in 2028 and support the broader urban air mobility eco-system.
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 a hundred 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.”
The physical footprint of an Urban Air Port is 60% smaller than a traditional heliport (the most comparable existing infrastructure). Using innovative construction, the sites can be installed in a matter of days, emit net zero carbon emissions and can be operated completely off-grid, meaning they do not always have to rely on a suitable grid connection.
Urban Air Port provides an integrated approach to the decarbonisation of cities. It is designed to support any eVTOL aircraft and complements other modes of sustainable transport as a hub for electric vehicles, buses or scooters. The design enables Urban Air Ports to be easily moved to alternative sites, as the air-mobility sector develops. This design also means the sites are ideal for disaster emergency management. Urban Air Ports can rapidly deploy drones and other eVTOL to collect and transport emergency supplies, equipment and people where needed.
The company plans to develop more than 200 sites in the next five years to meet global demand. Cities across the UK and many more globally have already expressed an interest in installing an Urban Air Port. Having secured funding for Air-One, Urban Air Port is now in discussions with investors to support its rapid commercialisation and global growth.
Coventry University are involved in the monitoring of the project and identifying public acceptability of the initiative. The Air-One site in Coventry will showcase live demonstrations of remote aircraft command and control, charging / refuelling and cargo and passenger loading for manned and unmanned eVTOL aircraft operating in three key markets: passenger air taxi services, autonomous logistics and disaster emergency management.
Urban Air Port has been awarded a £1.2 million grant from UK Research and Innovation’s Future Flight Challenge. The programme is funded by £125 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and is expected to be matched by up to £175 million from industry. 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.
All Images: Urban Air Port / SWNS