Page 19 - ATC Special Bulletin Series - Future Skies 2024
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team developed an ad-hoc communications system tailored to the specific requirements of urban air traffic. An experimental platform was set up for testing and flown to by two hexacopters in a practical test. Collision avoidance and secure transmission of ground-based navigation data were successfully demonstrated.
The air taxis travelled autonomously in the simulation. In reality, the first air taxis will still be controlled by pilots. Autonomous functions will be able to increasingly take over more of their tasks in the longer term. An onboard autonomous function was developed and tested as part of HorizonUAM, based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. The program learned to recognise people from different heights and perspectives using thousands of training images. This is important so that an air taxi can take evasive action or delay landing in the event of danger. The researchers also developed software that monitors whether the onboard computer is making the correct decisions.
After a little over 10 minutes in the air, the air taxi touches down on the landing pad of the vertistop at the edge of the Inner Alster. After a quick refreshment, Martina continues on foot to the nearby Congress Center, arriving in good time. As far as she is concerned, the 60-euro price tag was well worth it for such a fast and environment- friendly journey. Hovering just above the harbour city was a very special experience as well.
HorizonUAM has been completed, but urban air mobility has not yet been fully researched. In particular, the cost-intensive areas of infrastructure, air traffic management and vehicle prices require further investigation. The next steps will include the construction of a vertiport demonstrator at the DLR research airport in Cochstedt. Other projects are in their preparatory phases.
From the customer’s perspective, the financial cost of using an air taxi should not be too high. Yet future operators will be looking at profitability. To reconcile these two interests, the researchers calculated a price of between four and eight euros per kilometre flown. Another key finding was that short journeys and access to a vertidrome are also essential drivers of demand. There should be sufficient market potential worldwide. In addition to Hamburg, the researchers have identified approximately 200 other cities where the use of air taxis could be realistic by around 2050.
  DLR INSTITUTES AND FACILITIES INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT - Institute of Flight Guidance (coordinator), Institute of Propulsion Technology, Institute of Flight Systems, Institute of Air Transport, Institute of Communications and Navigation, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Institute of System Architectures in Aeronautics, Institute of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul, National Experimental Test Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

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