While the notion of flying cars seemed like science fiction last century, city skies are poised to be full of them by the end of this decade.
However, with eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicles, such as flying taxis, gaining traction as a solution for autonomously shuttling people and cargo deliveries by air, the infrastructure to support them is something still required.
Urban-Air Port Limited is already seeing out its vision for just where eVTOLs will be taking off from, with the company having opened its first demonstration-only ‘vertiport’ in Coventry, England.
Called Air-One, the pop-up airport serves as a hub not just for air taxis and delivery drones to dock and charge, but as the perfect place for passengers to board conveniently from in an accessible airport-like setting.
Powered by standalone hydrogen fuel cells to ensure the eVTOLs are recharged with no emissions generated, the vertiport (vertical airport) is circular in shape with taxi ranks surrounding it for easy access.
Central to its design is a platform for the eVTOL aircraft to land on and take off from, which lowers itself to ground level for passenger boarding.
Inside, it presents as a miniature airport, with areas to sit, order food and drinks, and indulge in a bit of pre-flight shopping.
Where will these flying taxi airports pop up?
Although England will be home to the first, the company notes locations in the United States, Australia, France, South Korea and Scandinavia are also earmarked.
Given the pop-up, off-grid nature the vertiports, not only are they targeted at short-distance passenger air travel and cargo delivery via drones, but for disaster emergency management as well.
Urban-Air Port CEO Ricky Sandhu notes the simplicity but importance of the concept, which is rooted in drone-carried cargo delivery.
“I think this idea for flying cargo could eventually be completely transferrable to flying humans,” Sandhu told ScienceFocus last year.
“If we can get from A to B quicker, and on zero emissions, then surely that’s advantageous.
“We can’t all have electric cars, for example, if we can’t charge them, so let’s be ahead of the curve for the next wave of electric mobility and get the infrastructure in place now.”
The Air-One demonstration site is open in Coventry’s Westminster Car Park until May 15.