Innovation: a real estate developer bets on urban air mobility

Do you remember Korben Dallas' flying cab in Luc Besson's "The Fifth Element"? If the look of the famous B90 belongs to the realm of fiction, the idea of bypassing traffic jams in the city by taking a ride in the air is now a reality. Here is a demonstration of the innovative concept of a real estate developer who is anticipating the evolution of urban mobility.

Although the global health crisis of 2020 suspended cities in near-dystopian silence for a time, since then, traffic jams have returned with a vengeance. Ranked 42nd in the world and crowned "France's most congested city" with a congestion rate peaking at 39% in 2019 (according to the Tom-Tom Traffic Index), Paris is suffering, and not alone: in London, Brussels, Rome (where the rate is close to 38%) as well as in Berlin (32%), all users of large cities are struggling with the same problem.

The emergence of a new mode of transportation. With this in mind, the desire to develop an urban air mobility sector with vertical take-off and landing has gained momentum, boosted by the prospect of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games: major groups, SMEs, start-ups, laboratories and universities are currently mobilizing to imagine the vehicles, urban infrastructure and integration into the airspace of this futuristic mode of transport. Buoyed by this effervescence, real estate developer Aqprim has patented the first Airnova© vertiport building concept in France. The idea? To create high-rise buildings in major cities, with roofs and architecture designed to allow air cabs and delivery drones to land safely in the heart of the city.

A whole network to imagine. The lack of infrastructure in the city - and in the longer term, in intercity areas - coupled with the need to avoid the artificialization of land as in the construction of an airport or a hub (i.e., a platform for connecting transport networks), has led Laurent Mathiolon, a real estate developer from Bordeaux and founder of Aqprim, to direct his research towards the development of a network that allows for rapid links, without polluting emissions, and connected to land and river transport networks. In 2019, he therefore imagined Airnova©. Accompanied by Henri Guérin, consultant in innovation communication, this project required months of consultation and exchanges to consolidate their patent registration. Architectural firms, urban planners, acousticians, major French design offices with expertise in aeronautics, as well as designers of hospital helipads, concierge services and operators provided their expertise.

Specific buildings. The result of these months of effort: the emergence of "hop-on, hop-off" mobility from the elevated platforms of high-rise buildings whose structure - studied and designed for this purpose - will allow aeronautical movements without interfering either with the daily life of the users of the buildings concerned, or with the destination of the latter (whether their function is residential or professional). Thus, for individuals wishing to use the services of a vertical take-off aircraft, the journey will begin on the ground, from the public space, through an elevator reserved for passengers. And within the framework of the management of the parcels of the private individuals or the tradesmen, a distributor in concierge will be in charge of the administration of the flows.

The patent, filed in April 2020, will be published in October 2021 and extended abroad, notably through the European patent which currently includes 38 member states. More information:

Published by A. Renard - March 12, 2021

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