Creating appropriate infrastructure and how-to upscale it.
The challenge is to enable UAS in becoming a useful component of tomorrow’s mobility by integrating them into the overall transport infrastructure network of a city with guidance from city planners and transportation experts.
UAS and the Urban Air Mobility market, in general, is an entirely new kind of transportation and will require substantial development and modification of current infrastructure. According to several studies, the infrastructural constraints include: vertiports built down-town to host take-offs and landings, battery charging stations (which are a critical element for safety, but also for business viability since charging times should be as short as possible), new digital procedures as well as new services for air traffic management at Very Low Level (VLL)4, maintenance facilities with skilled personnel to handle the drones and passengers (which also require attention to its security aspects).
A 5G cellular network is imperative in this context to ensure fast, low latency, highly reliable communication between the unmanned aircraft in the air, its control unit on the ground, the entities responsible for Air Traffic Management (ATM), several service providers (e.g. meteorological or geographical information) and public users, such as police officers.
Many cities already have heliports, therefore they possess the necessary infrastructure for landing sites. Only five heliports will suffice to create attractive routes in the first UAM deployment phase. In the next phase, selected geographies will have up to 40 vertiports with relatively small take-off and landing sites specifically designed for passenger drones. In the final phase, megacities with a population of five million or more will have up to 100 such sites to provide satisfactory service coverage. In this context, the International Standard Organisation (ISO) is developing a complete ISO 23629-XX5 series of new standards for the management of air traffic at very low levels as well as ISO 5015-2 series for vertiport operations – including ground handling, which needs to be in place for proper operation.