Challenge to discover the feasibility of electrical air taxis within the South West has been awarded authorities grant funding – Drones Information
Neuron is pleased to announce its involvement in a groundbreaking project to enable air taxi flights in the south west of England, UK. A consortium led by Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin group that includes Vertical Aerospace and the West of England Combined Authority, has received an industrial research grant from the UK government to investigate the feasibility of an air taxi service in the South West Region prior to conducting a demonstration in a live setting.
The £ 2.5 million project has received partial funding from the government’s Future of Flight Challenge, which was created to find innovative ways to achieve greener flights, find new travel options, increase mobility, connectivity to improve and reduce traffic jams.
Neuron will provide a surveillance network for the project to enable situational awareness for air traffic, which will be used to keep air traffic segregated and to meet the stringent requirements of the regulator. This includes improving network software, security standards, modeling network coverage and integration with Altitude Angel’s UTM system
The Atkins-led project is expected to last 18 months and will include an assessment of the demand for air taxi services in the Southwest. Development of use cases for the technology; and an assessment of the integration and impact on the wider transport network, including the region’s airports, and the benefits for cities and residents. It will create viable markets and business cases for these services and try to understand public perception and attitudes towards eVTOL (Electric Vertical Take Off and Landing) aircraft. These activities aim to culminate in a series of system demonstrations in live airspace across the region.
James Richmond, Atkins Advanced Air Mobility Lead, said, “As we look to the future of travel, it is more important than ever that we begin exploring more sustainable modes of transportation in our increasingly populated cities. We bring the experience and expertise of the entire consortium and are excited to begin developing a fully integrated system concept using the latest digital innovations. This is an important and tangible step in making Advanced Air Mobility a reality by showing that we can represent air taxis , we can start testing these services as early as 2023. “
In addition to managing the project, Atkins will provide the enterprise architecture of the entire system, develop security cases and create processes for secure management of passenger identification.
Vertical Aerospace, a Bristol-based manufacturer of electric aircraft, will be exploring vehicle integration with its eVTOL air taxi. Skyports, an infrastructure provider for the emerging Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) industry, will be responsible for the design, development, operation and airport integration of the physical infrastructure to enable safe and efficient air taxi services.
Vic Terry, Head of Digital Systems at Vertical Aerospace, said: “Our primary goal at Vertical is to make air travel environmentally friendly and accessible to all. This is a great opportunity to bring the products and services of the consortia together and show that air taxis are not reserved for science fiction but benefit our cities as well as the economy in the UK and around the world. “
Other members of the consortium are Altitude Angel and NATS, who will study advanced traffic management solutions and the integration of conventional air traffic control. Cranfield University will oversee the communications systems required for flight, especially in urban environments. London-based IT company Neuron will focus on networking surveillance data to enable safe and efficient passenger movement. One of the UK government’s innovation agencies, Connected Places Catapult, will lead research into public perceptions of air taxis, the way this travel method is used and the expected demand for AAM as a service. Providing the support of a regional authority, the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) will help bring the plans into line with the Joint Transport Plan, and cross-sectoral collaboration between the project and such as the Future Transport Zone and 5G developments promote.
Tim Bowles, Mayor of West of England said: “I want to bring the jobs of the future to the west of England and get our region moving. This air taxi attempt brings both ambitions together and is an important step in establishing the UK and the west of England as leaders in air taxis. Doing differently is in the DNA of our region and I am proud to say that we are once again leading the way in yet another exciting new technology that builds on our region’s global reputation as a global aerospace hub and supports our low carbon goals for the region . “
In addition to the grant partners, the international gateway Bristol Airport will act as the main support airport. The following contributions are provided by other airports in the region in order to ensure that the concept can be transferred to various infrastructures.
Simon Earles, Director of Sustainability and Corporate Affairs at Bristol Airport, said: “We have set an ambitious goal for the airport to be net zero by 2050. Innovative new travel approaches such as the air taxi service are critical to making this a reality and also support the broader decarbonization agenda in the Southwest and we are proud to act as the test bed for this exciting project. “
While the feasibility studies and subsequent trials will be conducted in the southwest, the project will also consider scalability and application in other cities.
James Dunthorne, CTO of Neuron Innovation, said, “One of the biggest challenges UAM faces when it comes to launch is the integration of unmanned aircraft into manned aircraft. As part of this project, Neuron will be able to show how we can remove these regulatory obstacles with the help of its novel sense and avoid solutions. We are all excited to see our technology roll out, and for the UK to once again lead the way in revolutionary changes in the aviation sector. “