Over the last five years, several prototype electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft capable of carrying passengers have been developed. What began as a few bold bets by a handful of organizations has now become the focus of widespread investment, not just by traditional aerospace companies but also by new entrants, including Silicon Valley unicorns and automotive companies who aspire to position themselves at the forefront of this new technology.
Why the investment? The answer is that eVTOLs — and similar conventional- and short- takeoff and landing aircraft — show great promise in offering an economically attractive way to save our most valuable commodity: time. By accessing the “third dimension” and flying over road traffic at high speeds, new forms of urban air mobility (UAM) may shorten commutes and other cross-city trips dramatically. The value proposition of “air taxis” and other UAM services is enormous. Additionally, UAM and similar new forms of regional aviation may offer compelling benefits by connecting suburban and rural communities to urban centers.
In this context, and recognizing the opportunity for society, we have formed the Georgia Tech Center for Urban and Regional Air Mobility (CURAM). Our goals are to conduct research to overcome the technical challenges of ubiquitous urban and regional flight and to educate the workforce that will bring these new modes of transportation to fruition. CURAM serves as a focal point for integrating Georgia Tech’s deep expertise across the engineering disciplines and for leveraging our considerable strengths in policy, planning, and economics. Our work will focus not only on the technologies needed to enable autonomous electric aircraft but also on the technologies and strategies to integrate aviation infrastructure and aircraft operations more holistically into the fabric of cities, respecting concerns for noise, safety, privacy, and equity.
We invite you to join us on our journey of exploring and enabling urban and regional air mobility.