A Vision for the Future of Urban Air Mobility
Every day, millions of hours are wasted on the roads worldwide. The average San Francisco resident spends 230 hours traveling between work and home. In Los Angeles and Sydney, people spend seven whole working weeks each year commuting, two of which are wasted stuck in traffic. In other global megacities, the problem is just as brutal: the average commute in Mumbai exceeds 90 minutes.
No matter the city or country, the minutes (hours!) you squander daily in the car, or on the bus or train, means less time with family, less time at work, and more stress. The list of unfortunate consequences could go on and on – just like the cars gridlocked ahead of you on the Washington, DC beltway.
The point is this: cities are growing rapidly. Traffic congestion is worsening – at equally alarming rates. It’s even worse for the biggest cities in the world. By 2030 there will be 40 megacities that cover less than one-tenth of a percentage point of the surface area of the globe yet are home to 9% of the population and 20% of the global GDP. Traffic isn’t simply an inconvenience. It’s a mobility crisis.
But the horizon ahead isn’t all smog and beeping horns. We just need to look up – and forward.
Up, Up and Away
How we (people and goods) get from Point A to Point B is changing. The shift is driven by converging technological advances and even social trends: the rise of carsharing and ridesharing; the increasing viability of electric and alternative powertrains; and innovations in connected and ultimately, autonomous automobiles – and helicopters.
In a not-so-distant-future, new seamlessly integrated vertical lift technology will fundamentally evolve urban mobility, setting new standards for safe, reliable transportation in congested cities. By expanding the capabilities of the helicopter, and leveraging advances in speed, autonomy and intelligence, there is real potential to connect city destinations as the elevator once did to floors of buildings.
Collaborating for the Future
Turning this ambitious yet possible vision into reality requires the innovation and collaboration of multiple mobility industry leaders. And it’s already taking shape – and flight. With close to a century of experience in developing solutions for every mission, Sikorsky is currently working alongside The Spaceship Company, a vertically-integrated, rapid manufacturing enterprise responsible for designing, building and testing the fleet of carrier aircraft and spaceships for Virgin Galactic, and Otis, which was founded more than 165 years ago by the inventor of the safety elevator and today moves more than 2 billion people each day through the world’s urban landscapes.
“The Spaceship Company has been extensively studying the Urban Air Mobility space and we are ready to apply our extensive capabilities to improve the lives of many in the world’s great cities,” said Enrico Palermo, president of The Spaceship Company. “We are excited to be evaluating this opportunity alongside Sikorsky and Otis, contributing to the future of urban mobility to ensure that the journey is just as important as the destination.”
Future urban air mobility missions will evolve from missions happening today. “Sikorsky is a decade into its journey of developing the enabling technologies with applications to the urban air mobility market,” said Chris Van Buiten, Vice President of Sikorsky Innovations. “We were one of the first to quantify the benefits of electric propulsion for vertical lift aircraft. Our MATRIX™ Technology autonomy system, which is installed on a modified S-76B™ commercial helicopter, is on a path to FAA certification. And our advanced fleet management technologies leverage data intelligence daily to keep hundreds of our aircraft around the world flying safely.”