It might look like a vision of the distant future but Hyundai, Coventry City Council, Urban Air Port and the UK Government are looking to make this a working reality within a decade. Dubbed Air-One, this ambitious project has just been awarded a £1.2 million grant from UK Research and Innovation’s Future Flight Challenge. The focus is primarily on passenger air taxi services, autonomous logistics and research into disaster emergency management.
The idea is that the site, which is less than half the size of a heliport, will act as a demonstrator for the world-first fully-operational hub for future electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft – such as cargo drones and air taxis, and it could be partly operational later this year.
Ricky Sandhu, Founder and Executive Chairman of Urban Air Port, said: “Cars need roads. Trains need rails. Planes need airports. eVTOLs will need Urban Air Ports. Over a hundred years ago, the world’s first commercial flight took off, creating the modern connected world. Urban Air Port will improve connectivity across our cities, boost productivity and help the UK to take the lead in a whole new clean global economy. Flying cars used to be a futuristic flight of fancy. Air-One will bring clean urban air transport to the masses and unleash a new airborne world of zero emission mobility.”
Hyundai wants to have its flying machines in full commercial use by 2028. Pamela Cohn, Chief Operating Officer for the Urban Air Mobility Division said: “As we advance our eVTOL aircraft programme, development of supporting infrastructure is imperative. Air-One is a unique project that is set to help lead the way in developing a robust, accessible and intermodal infrastructure network for future mobility. We are excited to be part of this partnership in the UK, and look forward to working together to create community impact and opportunity through safe, affordable and human-centred mobility solutions.”
Malloy Aeronautics is a drone developer which is also involved. The large drones it makes are scheduled to be flying from the site for demonstration purposes. Oriol Badia, CEO said: “It is a key goal for Malloy – to introduce unmanned air logistics into an urban environment and merge it with supporting infrastructure that is flexible and resilient, hosting intelligent operating systems and state of the art innovation. Air-One provides the ability to service multiple transport requirements of the future – from disaster relief to essential and everyday supplies for citizens across the UK. These are truly exciting opportunities especially with a strong partnership between Malloy and Urban Air Port – thus unifying serviceability and operability, forming a turnkey product.”
If all goes to plan, the official unveiling will be during Coventry’s UK city of culture celebrations later this year and the site could even have a role in the Commonwealth Games.