Local Leaders Join New Coalition to Advance Urban Air Mobility 

In a sign of the times to come, the World Economic Forum recently launched a new coalition of cities which will work together to make the possibility of advanced and urban aerial mobility a reality. 

Specialized companies such as Joby Aviation and Volocopter are aiming to have air taxis in piloted or autonomous flights of four to six passengers approved in a few years.

Other traditional aerospace companies such as Airbus and Boeing are also exploring how these new vehicles could support aerial mobility in the future.

Local policy-makers, however, are still a long way from understanding how best to approach these technologies and the challenges they will bring. A proactive policy approach to congestion, inclusivity, noise and privacy is needed if the benefits of urban aerial mobility (UAM) are to be realized. 

“City leaders have a great opportunity to ensure that emerging advanced aerial mobility technologies are implemented in ways that work for cities and their communities rather than the other way around,” said David Hyde, Lead, Aerospace, World Economic Forum. “By taking a proactive approach to advanced aerial mobility technologies before they are fully rolled out, leaders can ensure that AAM avoids the issues we see with other forms of transportation today, such as inefficiency, congestion, noise disturbance and inequity.” 

By bringing together cities and regions at the forefront of this revolution, the World Economic Forum’s Advanced and Urban Aerial Mobility Cities and Regions Coalitions will collaborate and share expertise to develop a range of solutions that other cities and regions can adopt based on their own circumstances.

Founding city and region members include: 

  • Amsterdam
  • Massachusetts
  • Orlando
  • Los Angeles
  • Île-de-France (Paris region)
  • Sao Paulo

The coalition will build on work that has taken place in Europe under the Urban-Air-Mobility Initiative Cities Community (UIC2) of the European Union’s Smart Cities Marketplace. UIC2 will also join as a founding member and European arm of the coalition representing 37 cities and regions.

The opportunity

With significant growth of urban centres expected in coming decades, cities and regions are increasingly thinking about how to enable the efficient movement of people and goods – including breakthroughs in new aviation technologies. 

This will not only connect more remote communities with the economic opportunities within cities but will also enhance transport options, with minimal investment in infrastructure compared to ground-based alternatives. 

As well collaborating with each other, these cities and regions will also have the opportunity to engage with industry leaders through the Forum’s AAM/UAM community to co-develop policy solutions to advance this exciting new technology. 

Expert thoughts

“At UIC2, we proudly support the Forum initiative to launch a world AAM/UAM Cities & Regions community in view of nurturing the responsible and sustainable transition of urban mobility to the third dimension at worldwide level. UIC2 is delighted to share its policy work, achievements and practical lessons learnt as put forward by its European cities and regions members since 2017,” said Vassilis Agouridas, Leader of the UAM Initiative Cities Community (UIC2) of the EU’s Smart Cities Marketplace.

“As a future-ready city, the City of Orlando wants to be prepared to embrace new transportation amenities that enhance our regional connectivity and allow us to efficiently move residents, visitors and goods throughout our community,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “We are proud to be collaborating and sharing experiences with other cities and regions to explore the best approaches to incorporating these new aviation technologies to serve as a major backbone of our future transportation network.”

Mr. Egbert de Vries, Alderman for Traffic and Transport, Water and Air Quality for the City of Amsterdam, said, “The city of Amsterdam is committed to ensure a safe, inclusive and sustainable living environment for our citizens, businesses and visitors. As the largest city of The Netherlands, we have been closely following and studying the growth of emerging drone technology and urban air mobility, as members of the UIC2, to view its potential but also to look at the risks and how to mitigate them. The ecosystem of the World Economic Forum and the AAM/UAM Cities and Regions Coalition helps us to share with, and learn from, other cities and excel our mutual learning process in the space of a new technology, policy making and 3D smart mobility concepts. This will enable us to make the right decisions for a future ready environment”.

“We are pleased to be working with the World Economic Forum’s Advanced and Urban Aerial Mobility (AAM/UAM) international partner coalition on policy approaches that will help to ensure the benefits of these new air mobility technologies can be realized across Massachusetts. It is exciting that officials in our 351 cities and towns will have the opportunity to learn and contribute to this international conversation. We look forward to sharing the work already in progress, in partnership with NASA through their Community Integration initiative, as well as with our local innovation partner, MassAutonomy, through their state-wide UAM/AAM Integration Task Force,” says Jamey Tesler, Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and CEO.

The Advanced and Urban Aerial Mobility (AAM/UAM) Cities and Regions Coalition was launched during Amsterdam Drone Week, the global platform for exchanging knowledge and expertise on air mobility solutions, innovations and essential regulations.

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