The Road to Automated Metropolitan Flight

UAM won't get off the ground in time without open, automated interoperable flight systems.

The German Air Traffic Management startup Skyroads presented its second comprehensive white paper on flight systems in Urban Air Mobility (UAM). Written by industry experts Ralph Schuppenhauer (Lead Ground Systems Skyroads) and Corvin Huber (CEO Skyroads) it not only presents an overview of the status quo of the discussion and development of Urban Flight, but also shows the requirements and benefits of associated Management Systems. Skyroads presents a clear roadmap of how the development of traffic management and vehicle guidance systems can enhance and speed up the implementation of UAM in global metropolitan and urban regions by bringing safety to urban flight already at an early date. Open, automated and interoperable flight systems will allow urban air traffic to scale flight numbers and thus dramatically improve revenue models.

The Key Learnings from the Skyroads Whitepaper are:

• Classic chicken-egg-problem: Various initial frameworks for the development of automated flight in UAM exist, but are not being implemented due to a lack of harmonization and market opportunity.

• Window of opportunity is open: Accelerating technology development offers a window of opportunity now for automated, interoperable flight systems to get UAM off the ground. And allowing the industry to scale thanks to significantly higher flight automation capabilities.

• It is the industry's turn: The UAM industry will urgently have to find a consensus and agree on rules to allow for interoperable systems. To keep the momentum of UAM, growth with “disciplined agility” needs to be applied.

• OEMs won't build the roads in the sky: Air vehicle manufacturers are currently shaping the image of the UAM industry, but they are not likely to offer the required open and interoperable airspace management and vehicle guidance solution.

Skyroads CEO Corvin Huber: "UAM is facing a classic chicken-and-egg-problem. While there are various approaches on how to manage automated flight, there is neither consensus on either rules or standards for even semi-automated flying in metropolitan areas nor is there a market yet. This needs to be resolved in close collaboration between regulators, the air vehicle industry and technology providers such as Skyroads who bring the necessary know-how and neutrality to the table. It is clear that air vehicle manufacturers will provide the vehicles to fly, but they will not be able to simultaneously build the roads and systems required to get UAM off the ground with regards to interoperable management quickly and profitably. Mercedes, GM and Toyota build great cars, but they have never built a road."

Huber adds: "At Skyroads we are at the forefront of creating such an open, automated and interoperable air traffic management and vehicle guidance system. Initial tests at our own testing air space in Memmingen/Tannheim were successful. And we have experienced substantial interest from not only manufacturers, but also cities and regions around the world, resulting in strategic cooperations. The need for our solutions and systems is here. And I am convinced that we will deliver in time to help launch UAM as a safe and open mode of transportation around the globe."