Roads congestion is being an issue for decades and in these years many solutions were proposed: improving public transport services, making public transport more appealing, encouraging the use of soft modes (cycling and walking) that would improve our health and quality of life, promoting Mobility as a Service (MaaS) solutions that could make multi-modal travelling easier, using micro mobility services (e.g. e-scooters), enhancing remote working to reduce the number of vehicles accessing city centres and many others.
All these suggested solutions have questionable and/or partial pros and cons and at present there is not an one-size-fits-all answer to the strong and increasing mobility demand.
Some companies recently came out with an “out of the box” proposal: to avoid roads congestion why not use the sky to make mobility easier and faster. In Feb 2019 I attended a transport conferences where Volocopter presented its product able to “reinvent mobility”. They describe it on their website as “THE WORLD’S FIRST MANNED, FULLY ELECTRIC AND SAFE VTOL: 18 quiet rotors, simple operation using a single joystick and the highest degree of reliability using superior design: The Volocopter 2X turns the vision of “flight for all” into reality. No combustion engine, no noise, no complex mechanics. Just step on board, fly off and arrive in comfort. Welcome to today’s innovative mobility concept“.
A few weeks ago, I read about another company – Lilium – that proposes its Lilium Jet as “an air taxi to revolutionise the way we travel. Nothing like the Lilium Jet has ever existed before. Its iconic design and pioneering technology bring the vision of fully-electric transition flight to reality. It’s the new mobility service for the modern, urbanised age“.
According to these companies, we could fly from airports to city centres in a few minutes and pay as much as a usual (car) taxi fare. These “identified flying objects” are electric (so no polluting emissions) fast, reasonably cheap and would not congest roads. Great!
But what about the sky over our cities? Would it be good to see many big mosquitoes flying over our heads? What about potential risks or crashing in our streets? What if sky travel services would include also freight as many already suggested in the past (e.g. Amazon)?
Certainly, there will be numerous accurate tests to ensure safety and security of these vehicles, however I am not sure if I would like to live in cities in the near future (some services could start as early as 2025) with all these buzzing vehicles travelling back and forth 24/7.
Besides, we could make roads freer but we would start congesting our skies. And then? Which other solutions we should expect?
EPN Consulting Founder & CEO