Coventry will host the “smallest airport on the earth” for autonomous drones

This article was originally published by Christopher Carey on Cities today, the leading news platform for urban mobility and innovation reaching an international audience of city guides. For the latest updates, see Cities Today Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Youtubeor sign up for Cities Today News.

The so-called “smallest electric airport in the world” for autonomous air mobility is to take place in Coventry.

The project which was awarded £ 1.2 million (US $ 1.64 million) by the UK government Future Flight Challenge – is being developed by the tech startup Urban-Air Port with the support of Hyundai will test how electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) such as air taxis and autonomous delivery drones can be integrated into the city’s mobility infrastructure.

Speak with Cities Today Sunil Budhdeo, Transport Innovation Manager for Coventry City Council, said the city had a lot of leeway to use the hub.

“One of the reasons we’re at the forefront of this project is our commitment to reducing congestion and emissions.

“There are a number of potential uses that we will investigate during the trials, such as the delivery of cargo packages. In the current conditions of this pandemic where there are lots of home deliveries, vans are floating around like there’s no tomorrow which has resulted in more traffic jams.

“Another area is healthcare: if there is an accident and someone needs emergency treatment and we have a drone nearby that can pick up the passenger and take them to the hospital, it would be more efficient than a large patient helicopter taking the Roads or traffic would have to close to ensure that the helicopter lands safely. “

The trials will take place at Coventry’s The Ricoh Arena, a sports and exhibition venue on the outskirts of the city, was chosen for its strategic location on the M6 ​​motorway, which handles large volumes of cargo deliveries, according to Budhdeo.

“Trucks can drop off their loads at the city airport, which can then be reloaded onto smaller drones and into the city center without clogging our streets,” he said.

The smallest airport in the world

The project is currently in a development phase and is expected to be operational in November 2021.

“Essentially this will be the smallest airport in the world. It’s like an electric water point that receives autonomous cargo drones and passenger air taxis. Visitors and passengers will also be welcome to see what the infrastructure can do, ”said Ricky Sandhu, founder of Urban-Air Port Cities today.

“The idea is to show how the urban airport infrastructure can be integrated into an efficient addition to the existing urban infrastructure. Space in the city is very limited. That’s why we want to make sure we have a scalable infrastructure that is appropriately sized that will provide the capacity but also fit into our cities without causing too much disruption. “

“The UK government is now very supportive of the air mobility sector. It’s pretty interesting because a few years ago the UK was the last place you’d think this type of technology would be integrated, but given the government’s economic recovery and net zero carbon targets for 2050, it was actually pushed forward high on the agenda, ”added Sandhu.

Urban-Air Port plans to install more than 200 emission-free sites worldwide over the next five years to meet global demand for reducing traffic congestion and reducing air pollution.

NASA has predicted that urban air mobility could be worth up to $ 500 billion in the short term in the United States alone, but that a lack of infrastructure is a significant barrier to market growth.

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Published on February 2, 2021 – 18:00 UTC

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