Technological barriers to the elevated future of mobility

Can urban transportation be lifted off the ground?

​Companies are developing aircraft capable of carrying passengers and cargo in urban environments. So what's keeping them grounded? Several key technological barriers need to be overcome before air taxis take to the skies.

DELOITTE’S recent article Elevating the future of mobility examined six challenges associated with achieving a scaled commercial deployment of eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft. One of the key challenges is how to resolve the complex technological issues, ranging from energy management to advanced detect-and-avoid capabilities.

Even as tomorrow’s mobility ecosystem takes shape at street level, many aviation and technology leaders see the future of urban transportation in the skies. In working to unlock this third dimension, companies are looking to lift people and products above and beyond roadway congestion and save significant amounts of time.

Granted, the elevated future of mobility is far from assured—right now, consumers worldwide are understandably leery about climbing into flying taxis—but major aircraft manufacturers, network operators, investors, and both technology veterans and startups are taking the prospect of urban air transit seriously. Though discussions about regulations are at an early stage, investors have already put hundreds of millions of dollars toward R&D for eVTOL aircraft and expect them to be operational within a decade.

Examples of progress are easy to find: For some years, the aviation industry has been developing eVTOL aircraft that lifts off and lands like a helicopter and flies like a traditional plane. But manufacturers must overcome several key technology barriers, from battery issues to collision avoidance and situational awareness, before eVTOL aircraft can rise above city streets. This article explores the technological barriers currently hindering companies that want to take part in this ecosystem from successfully lifting people and products and transporting them safely, affordably, and expediently to their destinations—and the approaches to address these barriers.

Future of Mobility

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