The future that we’re so used to seeing in sci-fi movies, with flying cars zooming around might not be that distant - for it to become reality, a place for all these eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicles to take off and land is needed. The UK government is officially backing a company called Urban Air Port that wants to open its very first dedicated so-called Urban Air Port, basically a place where both manned and autonomous flying electric vehicles will be able to touch down.
Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility Division is also part of this project with the end goal of creating its own range of eVTOL vehicles. Believe it or not, through this dedicated division, Hyundai wants to bring its first such vehicles to market as early as 2028.
Gallery: Air One
Urban Air Port founder and executive chairman, Ricky Sandhu, puts the company’s ambitions into perspective by saying
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.
The location for the first UK site has already been chosen and it’s in Coventry (named the best UK town for electric vehicles in 2020) and according to the press release, it will be ready sometime this year. Urban Air Port has been given
£1.2 million grant from UK Research and Innovation’s Future Flight Challenge. The programme is funded by £125 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and is expected to be matched by up to £175 million from industry.
Once the site is completed, the very first use for it will be as a docking platform for large cargo drones built by Malloy Aeronautics, a leader in the field of drone development in the UK. According to Oriol Badia CEO of Malloy Aeronautics,
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.
Now all of this may not sound like it’s that big a deal (because it's just going to be one site for now), but when the first cargo drone successfully uses Air One, as the site will be known, that will really be a historic moment signaling the dawn of a new way to not only carry cargo, but also transport humans without the need for roads.
If you’ve not seen our videos covering the very latest manned electric flying vehicles, let us tell you there are already several companies that are working hard on and investing a lot in such projects. And the fact that Hyundai itself wants to be part of the action signals a new potential shift in the automotive industry as a whole - not only are automakers now forced to change their business model to accommodate electric cars, but in the not too distant future, they will need to do the same for flying vehicles too.