Los Angeles is investing in ‘vertiports’ for emission-free eVTOL aircraft that can solve the city’s traffic problems on the ground. It writes Olivia Palamountain
Flying taxis may sound like something dreamed up in a Hollywood movie studio, but thanks to a New Year’s initiative called the “Urban Air Mobility Partnership”, battery-powered eVTOLs (electric vertical takeoff and landing craft) seem to be becoming a reality in the city Los Angeles.
Born from a partnership between the LA Mayor’s Office, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Urban Movement Labs and Hyundai Group’s Urban Air Mobility Partnership, according to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the initiative will help shape Los Angeles into a key player in air mobility racing.
“Los Angeles is the place where we turn today’s ideas into the reality of tomorrow — a place where a barrier-breaking concept like urban mobility can really get underway,” Garcetti said in a statement.
“The Urban Air Mobility Partnership will make our city a force for cleaner skies, safer transportation, expanded prosperity and amazing innovation, and provide a template for how other local governments can take this new technology to even greater heights.”
As reported by Robb report, Garcetti said his city would work with Urban Movement Labs to create vertiports for eVTOL aircraft in the area. He acknowledged that the city needs to identify and address “challenges” from local, diverse stakeholders around public airspace and property rights. California’s Archer Aviation is also developing an eVTOL called the Maker (pictured above), which is expected to go into production in 2022. Five-seater aircraft will be able to fly up 60 miles without having to stop to recharge, and will be able to travel at speeds of 150 km / h .
The idea is to start operating flights in Los Angeles and Miami by 2024, but Archer says its eVTOLs could land on existing infrastructure to begin with instead of relying on custom-built port ports. Not only would the prices be roughly equivalent to taking an Uber Black taxi ($ 3-4 per mile), but the Maker would be much quicker to get across town.
In February 2021, United Airlines announced that it had ordered Maker eVTOLs worth $ 1 billion from Archer Aviation, with the option of $ 500 million more. United CEO Scott Kirby said in a statement: “By working with Archer, United is showing the aviation industry that now is the time to embrace cleaner and more efficient modes of transport.
“With the right technology, we can slow down the impact the planes have on the planet, but we need to identify the next generation of companies that want to make this a reality early on and find ways to help them get off the ground. Archer’s eVTOL design, manufacturing model and engineering expertise have the clear potential to change the way people commute in major cities around the world. ”
Los Angeles is not the only American city exploring the potential of flying taxis. In Houston, authorities have been working with Uber Air (which was recently acquired by eVTOL manufacturer Joby Aviation) to set up the country’s first urban air network.
(Back in 2019, Globetrender reported on Uber Air’s six Skyport designs, innovations that were unveiled at the Uber Elevate Summit in LA and were part of the company’s plans to launch a fleet of flying taxis to the public by 2023.)
Meanwhile, Lilium, a German eVTOL manufacturer, is teaming up with Orlando to set up a regional network that will connect Central Florida with design in a day that spans the entire country.
In the UK, a flying taxi developed by Vertical Aerospace will take passengers from London to Brighton (75 km) in 30 minutes, starting in 2024, with aimed at making private flights safer, quieter, greener and cheaper. Read Globetrender’s full report here.