Urban Air Mobility: Optimised infrastructure and fleet sizes for the third dimension

A data-driven approach to determine optimal skyport locations and fleet sizes for urban air mobility services.

Leveraging the advancements in VTOL-aircrafts (vertical take-off and landing), urban air mobility presents a perspective mode of transportation in urban areas, e.g. for on-demand intra-city point-to-point services, airport shuttle services, inter-city flights as well as use cases in logistics or medical transport. The “Special Condition for VTOL” (EASA, July 2019), which acknowledges the more than 100 existing concepts of start-ups and established companies in the market, forms the regulatory framework for the certification of piloted air taxis and supports the developments by building the basis for approved commercial flight.

Besides the regulatory aspects and safety-criticality for the deployment of urban air mobility, further questions regarding demand, fleet sizes, skyport locations, and ultimately economic efficiency need to be discussed. In this insight, we present a data-driven approach to answer some of these questions using mathematical optimization models. The City of Chicago is used as a prime example of application: Leveraging historic mobility data, the expected demand for UAM in Chicago is analysed. Afterwards, the developed optimisation models are applied to find an optimal infrastructure and an adequate fleet size for a potential UAM service in Chicago.