Flying taxis and cargo drones are a hot topic among urban and industry designers. A lot of countries would like to be the first to offer these kinds of services, and it looks like the British city of Coventry is about to take the title.
Air-One®, an airport solely for electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL), is due to open this year right next to the local soccer club’s stadium.
If all goes well, it will be the first of many small airports, as the goal is to have about 200 of these types of airfields right across Britain by 2025.
Project management will be in the hands of the company Urban Air Port, which is working with the automobile group Hyundai. The South Korean company says it wants to do this because it is aiming to put its own flying car on the market by 2028.
Coventry was chosen because it has traditionally been a center for the automobile industry. In fact, the city even used to be nicknamed UK’s ‘Motor City.’ However, the last few decades the city has seen a considerable decline. The British government – which is supporting the project financially – is therefore no doubt hoping that the airport will give the city back something of its former splendor.
Coventry is also conveniently located to the biggest British cities of London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds.
The most special and innovative thing about ‘Air-One’ is that it will actually be a mobile airport. In other words, it will be relatively easy to take the airport apart like a jigsaw puzzle and rebuild it on another location.
The initiators believe that by doing this, they can best respond to future developments in aviation, which are also uncertain for them.
It is expected that the airport will initially be used principally for cargo traffic. Urban Air Port also sees a role in disaster relief and emergency response. Eventually, people will be able to be transported there via electric modes of aviation as well.
Coventry may be the first, but it is certainly not the only city that is looking to play a role in this new form of transport using drones. For instance, the German company Lilium is working on a partnership with Dusseldorf and Cologne/Bonn airports for transport with drones and e-taxis over short distances. Enthusiasm is building in Rotterdam, the Netherlands as well.
Nonetheless, our regular columnist Jan Wouters warns that these kinds of dream scenarios of flying cars are often not very realistic. At least, not in the short term. After all, transitions often take a very long time.