A market review on Urban Air Mobility: challenges & looking ahead

The concept of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) has taken flight in recent years, promising a revolution in urban transportation. As cities continue to expand and traffic congestion worsens, the need for innovative solutions for efficient, fast, and sustainable transportation within urban environments becomes increasingly pressing.

Urban Air Mobility (UAM) addresses urban transport challenges via innovative vehicles, specialised infrastructure, and advanced tech. UAM's electric VTOLs promise reduced congestion as a new mode of travel and transport. Enhanced by technological strides in electric batteries, UAM could bring substantial advancements in air mobility and logistics, revolutionising urban mobility.


Vehicles: drones and innovative aircraft

The heart of UAM lies in its vehicles, which range from small drones for cargo delivery to futuristic electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft designed to carry passengers. The vehicles are categorised based on factors such as weight, power source, autonomous capabilities, and design.

  • Open category: civil drones weighing less than 25 kg form the open category. These are versatile and can serve roles like surveillance, monitoring, and small-scale deliveries.
  • Specific category: drones with higher risk factors, such as flying Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS), carrying heavier payloads, or operating in urban environments, fall into this category. These drones require more sophisticated control and safety mechanisms.
  • Certified category: this category involves the highest-risk operations, including air taxis carrying passengers. These aircraft need rigorous certification processes akin to manned aviation to ensure passenger safety.

Vehicle designs vary, including eVTOL Multicopters for vertical takeoffs and landings, eVTOL Lift & Cruise aircraft combining multicopter and conventional aircraft features, eVTOL Tilt Wing and Tilt Rotor designs with rotating propellers on wings and tail, eVTOL Deducted Vector Thrust with fan ducts for vertical and horizontal operations, and more.


Infrastructures: vertiports and drone pads

To support the operation of these innovative vehicles, dedicated infrastructures are required. Vertiports and drone pads act as crucial hubs for takeoffs and landings within urban spaces. These structures are under development globally and are tailored for either air taxis or drones used for city deliveries.

Companies involved in this sector play diverse roles, ranging from planning and design to engineering and construction. Some companies offer integrated services that encompass the entire process from planning to construction, ensuring the development of efficient and safe infrastructure.


Technologies: enabling seamless operations

Advanced technologies form the backbone of UAM, enabling safe and efficient operations in complex urban environments. Key technologies include Air Traffic Management (ATM) and Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) systems, which facilitate the integration of UAM vehicles into urban airspace. These technologies enable real-time coordination and communication between vehicles and ensure safe separation and navigation.

The technology landscape also covers autonomy and fleet management. Autonomous systems are vital for reducing human intervention, enhancing safety, and optimising operations. Fleet management technologies ensure that multiple vehicles can work together seamlessly, minimising congestion and maximising efficiency.


Challenges and potential benefits

The potential benefits of successful UAM implementation are substantial. Reduced traffic congestion, faster travel times, lower carbon emissions, and enhanced connectivity are some of the rewards that could reshape urban living. UAM could provide a solution to the "last-mile" transportation challenge, making urban areas more accessible and efficient.

While UAM holds immense promise, it also faces significant challenges. Regulatory approvals, safety concerns, noise pollution, public acceptance, and the development of reliable autonomous systems are just a few of the hurdles that need to be addressed. Integrating these new forms of transportation into existing urban infrastructure and airspace management systems is complex and requires careful planning.

The UAM market is on the cusp of transformative change, with vehicles, infrastructures, and technologies rapidly evolving to shape the future of urban transportation.


To gain a comprehensive understanding of the current state and future prospects of the Urban Air Mobility market, we invite you to download the full market analysis provided by ARRIVAL. Explore the innovative solutions (150 drone models, 54 infrastructure solutions, 84 ATM systems), potential benefits, and challenges that lie ahead as we strive to unlock the skies for sustainable and efficient urban transportation.


Published on 25 Aug 2023.