Are we moving towards flying cars or green mobility?
Priya Wadhwa
10X Technology

Are we moving towards flying cars or green mobility?

Exciting times for mobility lie ahead.

Hyundai, the South Korean automaker has ventured into the flying taxi market with the launch of its new Urban Air Mobility division, which will be led by ex-NASA engineer, Dr. Jaiwon Shin.

Dr. Shin, as a 30 year NASA veteran, has led the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA, as well as overseen aeronautics research initiatives, including supersonic X-plane, electrification of aircraft, and UAS traffic management.

Hyundai predicts that the flying taxi market will be worth $1.5 trillion by 2039.

Uber, the US ride-hailing giant, has been investing in its flying taxi division, which it expects to launch in 2023. The first trials are expected to be in Australia in the near future. However, Scott Drennah, Vice President of Innovation at Bell, who is helping build the flying taxi, expects it to be around 2025.

This week, another flying taxi startup, Germany’s Volocopter, who conducted trials of its prototypes in Dubai in 2017, is expected to launch the system on trial basis in Singapore. The firm is reportedly in talks with Singapore regulators to carry out a public test in the coming months, with operations up and running in the coming 2-3 years.

"For the commercial routes, we have two customers profiles: one is a business customer, so perhaps from the airport to the business centre, or for tourists flying from Marina Bay to Sentosa."
Alexander Zosel, co-founder of Volocopter, told Reuters

Volocopter has raised $93 million till date, with the latest investment of €50 million from Chinese car maker Geely in early 2019. Geely now owns approximately 10 percent of the company.

Moreover, Aston Martin and Rolls Royce too are interested in the sector. It was noted in 2018 that they created Volante Vision Concept, which is a luxury VTOL aircraft. It is a “near-future study” for flying autonomous hybrid-electric vehicle, according to Aston.

The segment of flying taxis seems to be quickly getting crowded. In the midst of worldwide push towards sustainability, it seems a bit counterproductive to have flying taxis become a norm, especially as the air transport sector is responsible for a significant portion of greenhouse gases every year.

In fact, in Sweden, people are already shaming frequent flyers to supporting modes that add to climate change.

The UAE is taking a leading position in the region towards sustainability, with some of the largest solar energy plants commencing operations and being developed as we speak. Increasing hybrid cars are on the agenda too.

So in light of climate change and push for greener alternatives, do flying taxis stand a chance to become a regular mode of transport?

That’s not the only hurdle in face of flying taxis becoming a norm. It’s also about airspace security. Drones are evidently becoming an increasing threat. There have been multiple instances when scheduled aircrafts have not taken off in time due to drones being in the same airspace, while other instances include harm to property and life.

There are two major challenges in the path to these flying taxi ambitions: climate change and airspace security. Will the excitement of the Jetsons’ life add pressure to climate change or will the push for sustainability crash land the future of flying taxis? We are excited to see the future of mobility and what you as a consumer will choose.