By Michael Doran
Australia’s Skyportz is pushing ahead with plans to develop a network of landing sites at major cities in Australia to serve urban air mobility operations and on 13 November 2019 will announce a new partnership with the owners of Australia’s major commercial carparks.
“Space is at a premium in our cities and this partnership with Parking Australia will enable Skyportz to develop a comprehensive network of sites across Australia in preparation for the aerial mobility revolution which is almost here,” says Skyportz CEO and Founder Clem Newton-Brown, who was part of the successful push for Melbourne to be selected as the third city to join Uber Air’s programme.
Parking Australia is the association which represents the owners of commercial carparks across the country and Skyportz will work with association members to get their sites ready for future use as air-taxi and delivery drone hubs.
The Skyportz vision is for the rooftops of the parking garages to become multi-use skyports incorporating the air-taxi infrastructure and also become a hub for food delivery operators servicing the many high-rise apartments now a feature of all major Australian cities.
“Apartment towers deal with hundreds of food delivery couriers every day,” he explains. “Deliveries by drone to rooftop Skyportz will be faster, cheaper and better for the amenity of residential buildings.”
Newton-Brown says that the announcement of the Uber trials has turbocharged interest in UAM in Australia and that once an aircraft has been certified the concept of air-taxis will take-off.
“The prototype aircraft are already flying and there are some of the biggest aviation companies in the world involved, including Airbus, Bell and Boeing,” he says. “The early test flights will happen from existing helipads and airports but for a true on-demand service to develop we are going to need a whole lot of Skyportz.”
Parking Australia represents the major car parking operators and its members manage the bulk of the car parking sites across Australia. CEO Stuart Norman sees that changes in transport modes will bring opportunities to his members beyond their current operations.
“Urban mobility is rapidly changing and we see the need for our members to consider future uses for assets which are primarily used for carparking today,” he says. “This agreement with Skyportz will give our members the opportunity to be an integral part of this new transportation revolution and to lead the world.
“With the future changing modes of mobility the commercial car parking industry is well placed to provide the infrastructure needs of new mobility, including autonomous vehicles, electric charging and electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft landing pads.”
The details of this new partnership along with concept designs will be presented to members at the Parking Association Conference to be held in Melbourne on 29 November.
While Uber may have garnered most of the publicity, Newton-Brown and Skyportz is steadily building interest in the property sector and working towards assembling the network of landing sites that will be the heart of UAM in Australia.
“There is a lot of interest in UAM and we are channelling that it into some tangible assets so that those first-movers will be part of the system when it begins,” he says. “We’re preparing the landscape for air-taxis to happen in Melbourne.”