Startup plans to create a worldwide network of flying taxi and cargo drone hubs
Mobility & Transport
The ‘vertiport’ sites will provide essential infrastructure to transform the way people and goods are transported in city centres
Spotted: The urban air mobility market is on the up, with forecasts predicting it could reach US$1 trillion in the next 20 years. From flying taxis to delivery drones, emerging technologies have the potential to transform how people and goods move around cities, by-passing congested road transport systems by—literally—rising above them.
To date, most of the investment has gone into the development of the vehicles themselves. For example, at Springwise, we have spotted a drone taxi system in China, and an autonomous cargo helicopter. But a lack of ground infrastructure remains a limitation on the mass roll-out of these vehicles (known as ‘eVTOLs’).
To fill this infrastructure gap, UK-based Urban-Air Port intends to build 200 advanced air transport hubs—called ‘vertiports’—around the world. These vertiports will be ultra-compact and rapidly deployable, hosting both manned and un-manned craft. The first vertiport, which will be in Coventry City Centre in the UK, is expected to open for operations in April 2022.
Urban-Air Port recently secured significant investment from eVTOL manufacturer Supernal. The funding is a significant landmark, as it is the first time a major eVTOL company has invested in a ground infrastructure startup. Until now, just three per cent of air mobility investment has gone into such infrastructure.
“Cars need roads. Trains need rails. Planes need airports. eVTOLs need Urban-Air Ports,” explains Ricky Sandhu, Founder and Executive Chairman of Urban-Air Port. “Despite the unparalleled potential of eVTOL aircraft to revolutionise mobility, the importance of the ground infrastructure that enables them is too often overlooked.”
Urban-Air Port is not the only company Springwise has spotted building air mobility infrastructure. Air taxi company Lilium is also developing designs for a series of modular vertiports.
Written By: Matthew Hempstead
27th January 2022