Autonomous passenger carrying drones offer immense opportunity to reduce travel time and reduce carbon emissions and over time provide affordable and faster commutes to city fringe housing and an urban wide city networks.
Since 2018, Landrum & Brown (L&B) has played an active industry role in assessing the feasibility of Urban Aerial Mobility (UAM) – also known colloquially as “flying taxis.” The involvement dates to the 2018 Uber Elevate conference held in Los Angeles where L&B was invited to speak on the key interfaces between electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (EVTOLs) effectively passenger carrying drones and airports. At that time, Uber had nominated Dallas and Los Angeles as the launch cities for their planned aerial ridesharing services – cities where L&B have strong airport client relationships. Following the 2018 conference, L&B played a role in encouraging the City of Melbourne in Australia to successfully lobby to be the first city outside the U.S. to join as a launch location.
L&B quickly realized that the concept of UAM presented immense opportunities and challenges that we were uniquely placed to assist our wealth of knowledge. Our expertise in demand forecasting, airspace, safety, vertiport design (through our heliport experience), regulation and noise were very relevant to finding solutions to elevate the UAM dream to a reality.
The research arm of L&B has invested time in various research papers and submissions to the Federal Airports Authority (FAA) in the U.S. and to the Federal government in Australia, along with presentations to our valued airport clients. L&B has spoken regularly at conferences on the topic and developed high-level city case studies.
As a result of a downturn in Uber’s financial position due to the pandemic, Uber has sold its main interest in the Elevate product and will concentrate on its core business. However, their successor and other proponents including the cities of Dubai, Singapore and others are moving forward in this space. China is also a key investor in UAM technology.