According to the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, by 2030 it is estimated that 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. This represents an increase of 10% over current figures.
Traffic congestion is already the bane of the modern megacity (10m+ residents); Londoners lose the equivalent of 12 working days per year idling in traffic, while Sao Paulo, which possesses one of the worst public transport systems in the world, costs the Brazilian economy billions of dollars thanks to an average of over 180km (112 miles) of traffic jams. In suburban regions like the California bay area, the daily home-work commute is unsustainable, and soaring real estate prices compound the problem, by increasing commuting distances. Public transport systems are already at full capacity or above in most places, and while dynamic road pricing attempts to shift traffic flows away from peak hours, it doesn’t resolve the root cause of saturated road and rail capacity.Finding a solution to megacities’ severe traffic congestion and poor public transport systems is one of the biggest challenges in creating sustainable, liveable cities of the future. Most of the transport solutions that have been in development in recent years, from electric to connected to self-driving vehicles, are fixed on the ground. This means they’re not addressing one of the main problems in urban mobility – that there’s a limited amount ground space that can be used to ease traffic congestion.
3rd dimension multimodal transport networks
We think that to address these issues, we have to take urban transport skyward. We believe that by bringing flight to major cities, Urban air mobility (UAM), in the third dimension, will be key to a successful future model of metropolitan transportation.
Technology breakthroughs and innovative business models are opening up the skies, and our current key UAM projects are each looking to transform an aspect of urban living:
- Vahana – a single-person, autonomous flying vehicle
- CityAirbus – a multi-person taxi-style, piloted vehicle
- Skyways – an autonomous drone and infrastructure project (Read more about Skyways: Rethinking the urban last mile)
New regulation and public acceptance of the electrically operated aerial vehicles combined with more autonomous operation presents key challenges in bringing UAM into day to day reality (at present ownership of airspace in large cities is a contentious point of discussion).
Our work will help evolve regulation and demonstrate safety and efficiency over public areas through developing management systems and provide tangible proof of efficacy.
Futurists concepts will come into life in the smart tech-enabled cities of the future. Sustainable, efficient, affordable transportation, architecture, and technology will become the heart of the intelligent city.