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Can we get the air taxi in a decade?

Within a decade, technological development can seriously disrupt urban transport. We’re ready for unmanned aerial vehicles, take-off and landing aircraft, eVTOLs.

Although their spread is hampered by even more serious problems today, their appearance in the air industry and air transport can lead to revolutionary changes similar to those in the car industry nowadays, according to the Deloitte study.

A hundred years ago, U.S. aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss, one of the creators of the US aerospace industry, dreamed of three-seater, detachable-wing “flying cars”, which in the air shorten the hours of flights on Earth. After a century, Curtiss ‘ dream seems to be realized. A new type of vehicle is emerging that could revolutionize the transport of goods and passengers between cities and within cities.

These are electric or hybrid electric-powered vehicles capable of vertical take-off and landing, which deliver freight to the destination more quietly, faster and cheaper than conventional helicopters. This category is hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing, i.e. eVTOL unmanned aircraft.

Challenges facing eVTOL

However, Deloitte’s study on eVTOL technology * identified a number of problems that could hinder the proliferation of these revolutionary new types of vehicles.

Technological challenges
EVTOL is not yet fully developed technology. They shall develop reliably functioning engines, high precision positioning systems, advanced detection, and accident protection solutions to ensure the success of the technology. It is also crucial to answer energy management issues.

Infrastructure challenges
The necessary infrastructure for the operation of eVTOLs should also be built. In addition to take-off and landing sites, car parks, charging and service stations, emergency landing sites, communication and management networks and a single operating system are inevitable.

Regulatory challenges
Defining the operational framework is very challenging. It is no wonder that in addition to the development of vehicles, eVTOL manufacturers work together with one another to create a regulatory framework for air transport. The main task is to ensure the safe and efficient operation of increased traffic airspace.

A traffic management system for unmanned vehicles, capable of cooperating with existing air traffic management systems, shall be established. This will require a reliable and secure communication network, a predictable and consistent navigation system and constant supervision.

Social challenges
In a consumer survey of 10,000**, Deloitte looked at how people felt about eVTOLs. Nearly half of the respondents think technology is a great solution to traffic jams, but 80% believe that these devices are not entirely safe. The key issue is therefore whether manufacturers can overcome these fears.

Changes in air

If the difficulties are overcome, eVTOLs can bring about a revolutionary change in three areas.

Air management system
For conventional aircraft, i.e. aircraft and helicopters, eVTOL is expected to be able to fly significantly more passengers and freight, so the airspace will have to be shared and managed separately. How the two systems work side by side should be determined by governments and local authorities. It will be up to the authorities to decide which certificates of airworthiness unmanned vehicles will hold and which requirements will be met.

Urban infrastructure
Building the necessary facilities to serve eVTOLs in the city is not easy and not cheap. It is inevitable that these conditions are created not only by businesses but also by municipalities.

Air industry
Just as the appearance of electric cars has forced traditional car manufacturers to step up, major changes can also be expected in the air industry.

As technological developments and geographical positioning combined with the emergence of car and travel – sharing services and the transformation of the picture of urban transport, eVTOL technology will also change air traffic between cities and within cities. Deloitte estimates that the market for new types of aircraft could reach $ 17 billion by 2040.

Deloitte Technology Fast50

Technology is rapidly evolving, and besides large multinational companies, small technological startups are already involved in the development of eVTOL. These include the Slovenian Pipistrel, the British VRCO, and the Rolls-Royce, the American AirspaceX or Bell, and the Brazilian Embraer, so the first eVTOLs can be seen in the cities within a decade. Deloitte Technology’s Fast50 program, which also seeks out and recognizes the most innovative companies, is a great opportunity for start-ups like them that are already in operation.

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