There are now 50 cities around the world pioneering urban air mobility programmes

The number of urban air mobility initiatives underway around the world is accelerating rapidly, according to the latest Unmanned Airspace research – up from 39 in August 2018 (The 39 cities pioneering urban drone operations) to 50 today.  While the vast majority of these are research programmes there are now reports of local authorities (Oxford, UK and Tararua, New Zealand) using drones daily for surveying operations, with Tararua District Council one of the first local government bodies in the world to employ a full-time drone operator.

Europe

Belgium

Antwerp joined the UAM Initiative (EIP-SCC) in September. According to a press release: “Antwerp has stated its ambition to explore the potential of drones in an urban context. As a starting point, the feasibility of using drones for observation tasks by the local police will be studied. Specifically, the city of Antwerp and its local police will initiate a project definition aimed at developing an autonomous aerial imaging system with the ability to cover the territory of the city. In the development of the project, the city will also closely involve its quadruple helix partners (universities-businesses-citizens) and embed the initiative in its wider Smart City strategy.”

“The feasibility of implementing this solution will be studied in close collaboration with institutional partners such as Belgocontrol, Eurocontrol and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Among other partners who have signed and support the Manifesto of Intent are the Antwerp Fire Department, the Federal Ministry of Transport, the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority, the Federal Police (Air Support), the Port of Antwerp, iMec, University of Antwerp, Drone Think Do, Droneport, EUKA, Helicus and Unifly.

Brussels is part of the European Union’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) initiative and is examining the setting up of a drone-based emergency services network.

Ghent is part of the European Union’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) initiative. The city is examining the setting up of a prototype ambulance drone application and is part of the multi-stakeholder group. Partners include: the Department of Emergency Medicine Ghent University Hospital, Emergency Medical Services Dispatch Centre 112 East Flanders, Ghent University i-Know, Belgocontrol, Unifly, Euka, TomorrowLab, Drone Think Do, European Aviation Safety Agency, BRC Belgian Resuscitation Council, Ghent Fire Zone Central HQ.

St Truiden is the location of a “drone port”, located at the former military airport of Brustem, Sint-Truiden. Besides acting as an incubator for start-up companies, Droneport Sint-Truiden provides test facilities to drone operators, allowing them to conduct test flights in dedicated (segregated) airspace.

Bulgaria 

Plovdiv is part of the European Union’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) initiative. A consortium, with national and international partners, will be developed under the UAM Initiative of the EIP-SCC to develop a solid feasibility study and will initiate a fundraising actions; at a later stage, and upon approval of the defined project by the City, the realization of the UAMP project concept will be pursued in the wider region of Plovdiv. Supported by the Ministry of Bulgarian Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications, the City of Plovdiv will be exploring:

  • The synergistic use of new mobility services (including air mobility) integrated in public transport with a focus at connecting Plovdiv to other metropolitan areas at regional and national level;
  • The effective use for ambulance services and the use for public safety;
  • Cargo needs for small rapid deliveries. As a starting point, the focus will be given to introducing innovative goods transportation system in Plovdiv and the region, including the strategically highly important economic area of the TEZ. In the context of the EIP-SCC Marketplace, efforts will concentrate on raising investment for improving the accessibility of Plovdiv and its region as well as addressing its emerging mobility needs.

Other partners are the Bulgarian Civil Aviation Administration, the Space Research and Technology Institute – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Trakia Economic Zone.

Estonia

As part of the SESAR U Space trial programme, an international parcel delivery between Helsinki and Tallinn is planned, followed by simulations of dense urban drone fleet operations in Tallinn in controlled airspace.

Finland

An international parcel delivery between Helsinki and Tallinn is planned[i] as part of the SESAR U Space trial programme, followed by initial work to plan dense urban drone fleet operations in Helsinki with police intervention. Other programmes underway include maritime traffic surveillance combined with search-and rescue over Gulf of Finland and, in co-operation with Urban Air Mobility initiative, the Consortium plans to demonstrate the use of UTM for controlling drone taxi traffic by demonstrating a live drone taxi flight from Helsinki-Vantaa airport to downtown Helsinki.

France

Bordeaux is part of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine initiative, a European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC) programme. “(The Nouvelle-Aquitaine project propose to study the implementation of innovative mobility solutions using the aerial dimension to improve the urban and inter-urban mobility. The objective is to build starting from on-going experiences such as autonomous delivery of products and then to imagine, for example, the tourist transport from a liner docked in Bordeaux quays towards tourist areas, or to allow the transport of goods or isolated people towards health or economic centres. The tourist angle of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine project is also one of the differentiation factor compared to other territories which have joint the UAM initiative.”

The feasibility of implementing these solutions will be studied in close collaboration with institutional partners such as the French Civil Aviation Authorities (DGAC). Other signatory partners include the AETOS and TOPOS clusters, Aerospace Valley competitiveness cluster, Thales, Airbus and Bordeaux Technowest and two project leader of the regional Drone City call of interest (AirMarine and Betomorrow, 33).

Toulouse Métropole has joined the UAM Initiative of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC). According to a September 2018 press release “Alongside the “Projet Mobilités 2030” led by Tisséo-Collectivités, a structuring programme representing nearly EUR 4 billion, the objective is therefore to encourage the implementation of new mobility services for which the UAM is a high-stakes lever, and this in a global approach for responsible and sustainable urban development…Toulouse Métropole has set the following priorities, by adopting a step-by-step approach, for the sustainable integration of air mobility in its territories:

  • Remote sensing: use of drones for environmental monitoring applications or urban services (traffic management, air quality, infrastructure monitoring …), to meet the needs of supervision for the territory
  • Emergency and rapid response services (health, medical, security),
  • Urban logistics: to experiment with the support of specific products & services for which the drone technology could complete the already existing value chain, in a logic of the first / last kilometre.

The feasibility of implementing these solutions will be studied in close collaboration with institutional partners such as DGAC, Eurocontrol and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Amongst other partners who have signed and support the Manifesto of Intent are public authorities, industrials, startups, research laboratories and clusters. Partners with an interest to support the UAM project in Toulouse include, amongst others, the Prefecture of the Occitanie Region and Prefecture of the Haute-Garonne, Tisséo Collectivités, Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile (DGAC/DSAC and DGAC/DSNA), Aéroport Toulouse Blagnac, Caisse des Dépôts et des Consignations, Centre d’Etudes et d’expertise sur les risques, l’environnement, la mobilité et l’aménagement (CEREMA), Groupement d’Intérêt Scientifique Micro-drones, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse (CHU), Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC), Fédération de Recherche ONERA ENAC ISAE-SUPAERO, Airbus, Aerospace Valley, AirMap, Delair, EDEIS, ESSP, Electric Visionary Aircrafts (EVA), Institut Aéronautique et Spatial (IAS), Involi, IRT Saint-Exupéry, ISAE-Supaero, LAAS-CNRS, M3 Systems, ONERA, Oppidea, Safran, Sopra Steria, Telespazio France, Thales, Unifly, VIPAIR-e.

Germany

The Euregio, a cross border region spanning Germany and the Netherlands around Twente and bordering parts of Niedersachsen and Nordrhein-Westfalia, has become the first Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Initiative demonstration project featuring cross-border regional cooperation between European countries. In September a Manifesto of Intent signal the start of a project definition phase in which Enschede and Münster, two of the biggest cities in the area, together with Euregio will explore opportunities of UAM in the field of emergency services for public safety, with the aim to delivering these services with faster response times, lower costs and less noise disturbance.

Hamburg is part of the European Union’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) initiative. In close cooperation with industry, universities, authorities and the public, feasibility studies for the systematic deployment of air mobility solutions in Hamburg’s urban areas will be developed. Targeted solutions will explore, for example, the time-sensitive transport of medical goods or the inspection and maintenance of large infrastructure facilities such as port bridges and wind turbines. The initiative is led by Airbus, while institutional partners include Eurocontrol and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Hamburg supporters and partners include the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation, Lufthansa Technik, several universities, and the ZAL Center for Applied Aeronautical Research.

Ingolstadt is part of the European Union’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) initiative and has launched air taxi and organ transport pilot programmes. Partners include the European Commission, the Ministry of Economy, various local authorities, Eurocontrol, Airbus, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), Audi, Munich Airport, the Fraunhofer-Anwendungszentrum, Bauhaus Luftfahrt, the Ingolstadt Klinikum, the Technical University Ingolstadt and the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt.

Poland

Poland’s DroneRadar (https://droneradar.eu/blog/2018/05/30/another-airport-connected-to-the-polish-utm-via-droneradar/) reports that Warsaw Babice airport has been connected to DroneRadar UTM. The agreement regarding access to the system has been signed between Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA) and manager of the airport, Logistics Services Center (CUL) belonging to the Ministry of Interior and Administration. Babice airport handles approximately 40,000 operations yearly. Main users are Polish Medical Air Rescue, Police, Aeroclub and private general aviation schools and companies. Obtaining permission for drone flights in the Northern part of Warsaw (ATZ EPBC) has been simplified, and digitalised. Procedural control over flights – approval and modification – is possible using the DroneRadar system via twoway, non-verbal communication. All flights are now visible to EPBC AFIS and FIS at PANSA.

Switzerland

The Canton of Geneva is part of the European Union’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) initiative.

In Berne in June 2018 Swiss Post (https://www.post.ch/en/about-us/company/media/press-releases/2018/swiss-post-begins-transporting-laboratory-samples-for-insel-gruppe) reported it was working together with drone manufacturer Matternet to evaluate the link between the Tiefenau hospital and University Hospital Insel.  The pilot programme is reported to be the first instance of routine BVLOS operations supported by Swiss U-space, Switzerland’s nationwide integrated airspace system from skyguide and AirMap. In the pilot project in Berne, the drone connects the central laboratory at the Inselspital hospital with the hospital in Tiefenau. To ensure that the results are as informative as possible, the drone is being deployed on at least ten effective flight days over two weeks. The flights will then be jointly evaluated and Insel Gruppe will decide whether to use drones for day-to-day transportation of lab samples in the future. Following the evaluation of the route in Berne (Insel Gruppe), Swiss Post will look into a further route between the main laboratory, ZLZ Zentrallabor Zürich, and the ZLZ emergency laboratory at the Hirslanden Klinik Im Park.

In March 2017 the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA) granted Matternet a certification allowing their delivery drones to fly autonomously over cities at any time of day or night. Clearing this regulatory hurdle means that by early 2018, Matternet partner Swiss Post plans to use the drones to deliver blood samples and other small parcels between hospitals in Lugano, a smaller city with a population of about 56,000.

In November 2017 Mercedes-Benz Vans, Matternet and Swiss online marketplace Siroop announced they had completed 100 flights during their pilot project in Zurich to test an efficient van and drone-based system for on-demand delivery of e-commerce goods. The pilot project, which started with first trials on September 25 2017, “is the first time that extensive beyond line-of sight drone operations with the use of vans as landing platforms are taking place in a major urban area to test a fully-automated e-commerce drone network”, according to pilot company Daimler.[1]

The Netherlands

The Euregio, a cross border region spanning Germany and the Netherlands around Twente and bordering parts of Niedersachsen and Nordrhein-Westfalia, has become the first Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Initiative demonstration project featuring cross-border regional cooperation between European countries. In September a Manifesto of Intent signal the start of a project definition phase in which Enschede and Münster, two of the biggest cities in the area, together with Euregio will explore opportunities of UAM in the field of emergency services for public safety, with the aim to delivering these services with faster response times, lower costs and less noise disturbance.

United Kingdom

Bradford is a NESTA Flying High pioneering project centre.

Some of the earliest drone testing happened in Bradford, a district with a population of over half a million across an area that is two thirds rural and includes densely populated urban areas, moorland, farmland and woodland. The project will be looking at how drones can support district priorities such as disaster response, digital health, surveying and community safety.

London is a NESTA Flying High pioneering project centre.

The capital has the busiest and most heavily regulated airspace in the UK, and the Flying High Challenge will allow the city to have serious conversations about if, how and where drones could safely be used in future for the benefit of the city. London has already experienced initial use of drones for safer infrastructure inspections and helping the capital’s emergency services, and now needs to identify what steps are needed to ensure the use of drones benefits the city and support its ‘Healthy Streets’ approach for London’s future.

Oxford Direct Services (ODS)[ii], the service delivery and commercial arm of Oxford City Council, has announced that it is to start providing drone-based services to include roof and building surveying, land mapping, aerial photography and filming. Initially, ODS will focus on surveying the roofs of 7,800 properties it maintains on behalf of Oxford City Council.

Preston is a NESTA Flying High pioneering project centre.

The main urban centre in a wider Lancashire city region that is the location of the largest cluster of aerospace activity in the UK. The city is at the forefront of identifying and developing civic drone applications, and is home to the ‘Civic Drone Centre’ – established by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in 2014 to bring together local authorities, communities and businesses to support novel drone solutions. Drones are already being used in Preston in inspections of utilities and council buildings, supporting fire and rescue services and to assist the Environment Agency. Through the Flying High Challenge, the city council, in partnership with UCLan, will be exploring other areas of city need where drones could play a role, including flood management, assisting police helicopters, and upgrading road networks. The city is developing an approach to local economic development known as the ‘Preston Model’ that seeks to ensure local economic, social and environmental benefits are at the forefront of new developments.

Southampton is a NESTA Flying High pioneering project centre.

One of the UK’s major port cities, a global gateway and regional transport hub. Southampton City Council has a vision to accelerate the safe delivery of public services and commercial activity using remotely piloted and autonomous drone systems, notably around port safety, blue light services and offshore logistics. The council is working in collaboration with the University of Southampton, which has very strong drone and autonomous systems expertise as the leader of a large consortium project, CASCADE, looking at implementation of drones in civil airspace. Southampton University also participates in the EPSRC Future Cities project from a drone perspective; and the Airstart project with the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) investigating safe routine operation of small UAS’ Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS).

The West Midlands area is a NESTA Flying High pioneering project centre.

A large region and strategic centre for the country encompassing the cities of Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton. The West Midlands boasts two international airports, several universities, multiple collaborating local authorities and 2.8 million residents. The region is interested in UAV use cases surrounding the ‘UK City of Culture 2021’ and Commonwealth Games events. Innovative R&D across the region offers other potential areas of synergy with Flying High, including the construction of a cutting-edge testbed for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. The West Midlands brings a diverse and expansive consortium which is united by the ambition to realise drone use, not just as a strategic exercise, but a deliverable reality, hoping to strike the necessary balance between ambition and regulation.

Far East and Australasia

China

In Shanghai the Alibaba-owned Ele.me food delivery company has been given permission to deliver food to residents of Shanghai’s Jinshan Industrial Park. According to the government news service “Approval to deliver food by drones on 17 different routes from over 100 local restaurants was received by Ele.me, allowing them to cover an area of 58 square kilometres.” The move marks the first known commercial use of drones in China to deliver food; drones are used for approximately 70% of the total delivery distance, with one employee packing the food at one end of the route, then another employee receiving the food to complete the delivery manually by driving to the final destination, according to the news service. Although the top payload capacity of the drone is 6kg, the food box in which the food is placed weighs 485 grams.

Japan

Chiba City is the first city in Japan to deploy the Airspace Management Dashboard. Designated as a National Strategic Special Zone for developing delivery drones, Chiba City has established three drone test sites to support the development of technology solutions for drone delivery and other complex use cases. Drone innovators who wish to fly at these test sites can register and receive authorisation from Chiba City with the mobile apps.

In Kanagawa prefecture NEDO (The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization), KDDI (a telecommunications operator), Terra Drone (a Japanese industrial drone service provider) and SECOM (a Japanese security company) have developed a network for controlling multiple autonomous drones carrying out security surveillance operations at a wide-area facility using a 4G LTE mobile communication network.

In line with Japan’s “Roadmap for the Aerial Industrial Revolution” in March 2017 a large-scale drone operation demonstration was organised incorporating multiple operators in Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture.

New Zealand

Airways New Zealand is working with Zephyr Airworks to integrate air taxis into the air navigation service provider’s developing UTM network. Zephyr Airworks is developing its Cora air taxi in New Zealand. The trial of the AirMap drone traffic management platform currently underway in Canterbury and Queenstown is the first step in this development. AirMap allows drone pilots to plan their flights, seek authorisations and get information about the areas they’re operating in. In the next phase Airways is planning is to develop tracking tools that allow UAVs to be accurately monitored once they are beyond the pilot’s line of site and detect and avoidance capability to keep them safely separated from other aircraft. Airways also intends to test the capabilty of New Zealand’s existing telecommunications network to track the likes of Zephyr Airworks’ autonomous vehicle Cora and UAVs in uncontrolled airspace and enable better telemetry for drone pilots.

In February 2018 Land Information New Zealand reported that the Residential Red Zone in Christchurch had become a test centre for flight planning for commercial and recreational users of drones.

“Land Information New Zealand has been working closely with air traffic agency Airways to provide this unique 600 hectare testing ground in an urban environment in the Avon Corridor for drone users to trial the UAV Traffic Management (UTM) software without any inconvenience to home owners,” said the organization. “Airways partnered with global airspace management provider AirMap to develop a free iOS and Android app, which drone users can access to seek necessary airspace and public landowner approvals to fly, file flight plans, and access real–time information about other aircraft in the area, allowing them to stay safely separated.”

As part of that role, LINZ and the Christchurch City Council provided detailed land data for the AirMap app developers and the terms and conditions for accessing the Crown land. Drone use in the Residential Red Zone must comply with Civil Aviation Rules.

Tararua District Council[iii] is now using drones to capture images of slips in the district’s network of rural roads and where streams have scoured their banks to threatening roads, allowing transport issues to be resolved faster, with post-processing software used during emergencies and in responding to disasters such as floods or earthquakes. The council has created a permanent drone operator position.

Singapore

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the Ministry of Transport have announced  up to SD6 million to four consortia who submitted proposals to CAAS’ UAS Call-For Proposal (CFP) in November 2017 to develop and test UAS working prototypes. The selected proposals explore solutions in areas such as surveillance, inspection, package and maritime delivery, and the effective and safe use of airspace for UAS. The CFP enables collaboration with industry players to trial innovative drone operations, while ensuring safety objectives are met. The CFP will provide up to 50% funding for each successful proposal, with the funding amount capped at SD1.5 million dollars. Successful proposals will be given a period of two years to complete their proposed solutions.

The lead applicants to be awarded and their proposed solutions are: Avetics, Garuda Robotics, Nova Systems, Wilhelmsen.

In February 2018 Airbus Helicopters’ Skyways unmanned air vehicle successfully completed its first flight demonstration at the National University of Singapore (NUS), says the company. The drone took off from its dedicated maintenance centre and landed on the roof of a specially designed parcel station where a parcel was automatically loaded via a robotic arm. Once successfully loaded with the parcel, the Skyways drone took off again and returned to land, demonstrating its automatic unloading capability.

During the 2018 Singapore Air Show in February[iv], Airbus made the first demonstration of a new parcel-delivery drone service which will begin trial commercial operations later this year, based on the Airbus Skyways octo-copter designed to carry parcels inside its chassis. Six Skyways drones will be used for the pilot project, based at the campus of the National University of Singapore (NUS).

South Korea

In December 2017 Terra Drone, a Japanese commercial drone service company, launched a commercialised UTM system in collaboration with LG U+, a South Korean cellular carrier owned by LG Corporation. According to LG U+ CEO Kwon Young-Soo the “U+ Smart Drone UTM System,”  is now operational, enabling disaster monitoring and logistic transport drone operations BVLOS (beyond visual line- of-sight) and at night. Operators can connect to the UTM system via various portable devices such as PC/tablet/mobile and confirm the position of a drone through the UTM system in BVLOS operations.

Middle East

Jordan

In March of 2017, Cape[v] was contracted by the Jordanian government to provide aerial observation technology utilizing drones for the Arab League Summit. Cape’s operations staff deployed to Jordan several weeks in advance of the event and worked directly with the Jordanian Royal Guard to develop safe standard operating procedures for flight over people, BVLOS, and night flight. Using these operational techniques and utilizing Cape’s Aerial Telepresence Technology, the Royal Guard was able to safely provide around the clock security for the summit ensuring the security of the hundreds of participants and dozens of world leaders in attendance.

United Arab Emirates

The General Civil Aviation Authority, the Dubai Air Navigation Services, the Police, Exponent Technology Services and the  Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) are working together to provide the UTM and regulatory background to launch air taxi services and BVLOS drone delivery flights by 2020 in Dubai. Already developed is a registry, a database of pilots and drones and a module for flight application management. Flying vehicles carry a 58 gram tracking box for all commercial UAS operations and flight validation. The box is able to transmit over the GSM-network every two seconds reporting the position, altitude, speed, heading, pitch, roll and yaw of the drone as well as the distance it has covered during the flight

BVLOS flights have already been tested in Dubai for a period of four months in 2017 with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).  They conducted traffic surveillance over one of the main arterial highways in Dubai, focusing on incident detection.

North America

Mexico

Ensenada

In the summer of 2017, Cape (https://www.cape.com/blog/2018/8/8/capes-ipp-integration-pilot-program-selection-and-the-future-of-bvlos) partnered with the City of Ensenada, Mexico, to deploy Cape’s Aerial Telepresence™ into daily police dispatch. Utilizing a single DJI Inspire and Cape’s technology, the city of Ensenada reported a 10% drop in city wide crime and a 30% reduction in home burglary after a six-month pilot project.

USA

Boston, MA

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded Daedalus Drone Services with unprecedented approval to fly in and around Boston. With the waiver, Daedalus Drone Services now offers on-demand commercial drone services throughout the greater Boston area. Federal law prohibits commercial unmanned aircraft operations in Boston Logan’s Class B (restricted) airspace without prior authorization (see 14 CFR 107.41). The restricted airspace encompasses an 18 mile wide circle surrounding Boston’s Logan airport; expanding into Saugus, Brighton, and Quincy. To operate in the restricted airspace, the FAA requires that authorization requests be made at least 90 days prior to the anticipated operation. This prohibits routine and on-demand commercial drone services in much of the greater Boston area.

Daedalus Drone Services filed a special petition with the FAA requesting blanket permission to offer on-demand commercial drone services in Boston’s restricted airspace. In support of their decision, the FAA considered Daedalus Drone Services’ safety record, safety management and flight operations manuals, training programmes, and experience offering commercial drone services across the country. The FAA concluded that the operations and procedures proposed by Daedalus Drone Services met or exceeded the equivalent level of safety necessary.

As a result, the FAA issued Daedalus Drone Services a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization: 2017-P107-ESA-16746. This waiver allows Daedalus Drone Services to bring widespread commercial drone services to the greater Boston area.

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Durant, OK

An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) project.

PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal focuses on agricultural, public safety and infrastructure inspections, with planned Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations over people and nighttime operations.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: The proposal highlights plans to invest in mobile ground-based detect and avoid radars and advanced weather infrastructure. The awardee, along with partners CNN and the Green Valley Farms Living Laboratory, has an aggressive 90-day schedule for high-profile Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS) and night operations. The data obtained from these operations will be broadly applicable, and could extend to a wide range of operations and geographical locations.

Dallas, TX

Uber plans to launch air taxi services in Dallas and Los Angeles in 2023. At the May 2018 Uber Elevate conference the company announced it plans to have its prototype UberAIR electrically-powered air taxis flying in 2020, with commercial operations starting in 2023. Uber, quoted in numerous news reports, says it plans to start its four-seat taxi services in Dallas and Los Angeles. The autonomous air taxis (piloted by humans in the early versions) will operate vertical takeoffs and landings from dedicated rooftop “skyports” and at a costs affordable to the general public.

The prototype versions will have wing-mounted rotors and fly at altitudes 1,000 to 2,000 feet above the ground. Uber is also teaming with Fort Worth-based Hillwood Properties to develop skyports, called vertiports, with plans to create two to five ports in NorthTexas within the year.

City of San Diego, CA

An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) project.

PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal focuses on border protection and package delivery of food, with a secondary focus on international commerce, Smart City/autonomous vehicle interoperability and surveillance.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: The awardee will conduct UAS operations and examine new technologies not in use today by leveraging its indoor testing facilities and various drone landing stations and ports. The proposal would employ a variety of available communications technologies, including 5G test networks and the 4G LTE cellular network and AT&T’s national first responder network authority (FirstNet.) These UAS operations will provide solid data to improve UAS specific ID & Tracking systems, necessary for UAS integration into the National Airspace System.

The application pairs public entities such as the City San Diego, Chula Vista, and the San Diego Port Authority with private partners including Cape, Qualcomm, GE, UCSD Health, Matternet, AirMap, Uber, and AT&T.

Over the course of the IPP, Cape plans to work directly with the CVPD and other public and private partners to demonstrate that BVLOS and urban operations can be conducted safely and efficiently  utilizing Cape Aerial Telepresence™ technology.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority, Herndon, VA

An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) project.

PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal seeks to facilitate package delivery in rural and urban settings. Its includes the use of enabling technologies such as detect and avoid, Identification and tracking, radar systems, and mapping tools.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: The awardee seeks to leverage existing expertise through partnerships with the Virginia Tech UAS Test Site, NASA, and stakeholders with cyber security expertise. Data obtained through these diverse operations and varied operating environments will provide significant, scalable benefits to the agency and industry.

Kansas Department of Transportation, Topeka, KS

An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) project.

PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal deploys UAS to support beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations in rural communities. It seeks to leverage a statewide unmanned traffic management system to facilitate precision agriculture operations.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: Operations will use a range of technologies, such as detect and avoid, ADS-B, satellite communications and geo-fencing. The program will use existing in-state resources such as fiber optic networks and UAS Traffic Management (UTM). The awardee has a robust community involvement plan that supports the diverse operations that are planned.

 

Lee County Mosquito Control District, Ft. Myers, FL

An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) project.

PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal focuses on low-altitude aerial applications to control/survey the mosquito population using a 1500-lb. UAS.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: The proposal includes scalable solutions that take into account a broad range of current and future technologies that include ground-based detect and avoid radar systems that would integrate ADS-B, infrared imaging and satellite technology. The proposal includes night operations, BVLOS and operations over people.

Los Angeles, CA

Uber plans to launch air taxi services in Dallas and Los Angeles in 2023. At the May 2018 Uber Elevate conference the company announced it plans to have its prototype UberAIR electrically-powered air taxis flying in 2020, with commercial operations starting in 2023. Uber, quoted in numerous news reports, says it plans to start its four-seat taxi services in Dallas and Los Angeles. The autonomous air taxis (piloted by humans in the early versions) will operate vertical takeoffs and landings from dedicated rooftop “skyports” and at a costs affordable to the general public.

The prototype versions will have wing-mounted rotors and fly at altitudes 1,000 to 2,000 feet above the ground.

Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, Memphis, TN

An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) project.

PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal focuses on the inspection of FedEx aircraft and autonomous operations that support airport operations such as perimeter security surveillance and package delivery. Proposed operations include working with a UTM concept that would also work with manned air traffic.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: Teaming with FedEx and Agricenter International, the awardee would support an integrated environment of urban, airport, private property and farmland that would yield an estimated $500 million annual benefit to the economy. Data collected would not only serve UAS, but work with normal air traffic truly advancing integration.

North Carolina Department of Transportation, Raleigh, NC

An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) project.

PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal seeks to test localized package delivery within a defined airspace by establishing drone delivery stations in local communities. This approach enables small businesses to utilize this delivery platform for commercial purposes.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: The proposal seeks to operate over human beings, beyond visual line of sight and at night, and seeks to use a variety of technological tools to enable these advanced operations. Tools include ADS-B, detect and avoid technologies, UTM and radar technologies. The data collected from these diverse operations will significantly enhance safe UAS integration into the National Airspace System.

North Dakota Department of Transportation, Bismarck, ND

An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) project.

PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal includes a wide variety of diverse operations that incorporate advanced technologies that seek to expand UAS operations at night and Beyond Visual Line of Sight. The proposal will focus on data from four criteria: external systems, aircraft system technologies, training requirements, and processes and procedures.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: Operations will be in multiple types of airspaces ranging from rural to urban areas. Working with experienced UAS research partners will lead to scalable operations for a multitude of UAS industries including linear infrastructure inspections, crop health monitoring, and media reporting and emergency response.

The Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUAS) and the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) (https://www.dot.nd.gov/dotnet/news/Public/View/8056) have announced the successful completion of testing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in Fargo, including the demonstration of a parachute recovery system Working in partnership with CNN, Botlink and ParaZero, the NDDOT and NPUASTS performed its first series of flight tests of Unmanned Aircraft Systems for potential flight over a group of people in controlled airspace.

Pensacola, FL

According to the Pensacola News Journal (http://www.pnj.com) in January 2018 local start-up AAA Air Taxi (https://aaaflyingtaxi.com/) – a subsidiary of Brock Auto Sales – Is planning a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week service featuring autonomous air taxis that fly from port to port, picking up passengers and dropping them off throughout Pensacola. The newspaper reports the company has signed a letter of intent to place an order for and a deposit on one flying taxi that its plans to use to conduct test flights. “AAA Air Taxi has narrowed down the field to three manufacturing companies — whose names they did not want to disclose — from whom to buy their desired 10 vehicles,” reports the journal, and each vehicle costs about USD250,000, depending on state and city requirements.

 The City of Reno, NV

An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) project.

PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal focuses on the time-sensitive delivery of life-saving medical equipment, such as medical defibrillators in emergency situations in both urban and rural environments.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: The awardee will integrate additional infrastructure such as radar and weather data in order to expand the UAS capability so it could save up to 28-34 lives per year, using one drone in a three-mile city radius. This proposal considers a nationwide scalable model for medical delivery operations and has several commercial medical partners.

 

University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK

An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) project.

PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal’s primary focus is pipeline inspection and surveying in remote areas and harsh climatic conditions, but it has proposed a broad range of other types of operations in urban and rural areas, ranging from public safety to UAS detection.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: The awardee uses enabling technologies that include collision avoidance, detect and avoid day and night, ADS-B, differential GPS, satellite services, infrared imaging and UTM. Operations in remote areas provide a unique opportunity to evaluate data on several advanced technologies. The unique climate and operating environment also provide an opportunity not available to other awardees

Loveland, OH

Workhorse Group Inc (http://workhorse.com/newsroom/2018/05/workhorse-horsefly-autonomous-drone-package-delivery-pilot-underway-cincinnati) reports that its HorseFly truck-launched Autonomous Drone Package Delivery System is now making package deliveries to homes in the Cincinnati area in a pilot programme with the City of Loveland and the Federal Aviation Administration. Consumers in select Cincinnati zip codes opted-in to accept packages from Horsefly via the Workhorse Ares Drone Package Delivery App, which is designed to seamlessly integrate with existing online e-commerce platforms. Each package is delivered within the delivery driver’s line of sight, says the company. “Data from the pilot will provide essential insights into consumer preferences, as well as real-world evidence to support expanded use cases with the FAA. To date, the system has been successfully tested with UPS and an undisclosed large retailer, and aims to provide significant cost savings by eliminating extra miles of driving to deliver packages.”

 

(Image: Airbus – the Skyways urban drone delivery network of airway corridors planned for Singapore)

 

 

[1] See: (http://media.daimler.com/marsMediaSite/en/instance/ko/Vans–Drones-in-Zurich-Mercedes-Benz-Vans-Matternet-and-siroop-start-pilot-project-for-on-demand-delivery-of-e-commerce-goods.xhtml?oid=29659139).

 

[i] https://www.icao.int/Meetings/DRONEENABLE2/Documents/Presentations/1-3-1%20Klopf%20-%20Ziegler.pdf

[ii] https://www.oxford.gov.uk/news/article/859/game_of_drones_ods_launches_commercial_drone_services_in_oxford

[iii] https://www.nzherald.co.nz/the-country/news/article.cfm?c_id=16&objectid=12116827

[iv] https://www.aerosociety.com/news/first-delivery/

[v] https://www.cape.com/blog/2018/8/8/capes-ipp-integration-pilot-program-selection-and-the-future-of-bvlos

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