Flying transport? Urban air mobility in the Smart City


Flying transport? Urban air mobility in the Smart City

What if Korben Dallas' flying cab was soon a possibility in the Smart City? Between fiction and reality, flying transport should however take a slightly different look from Luc Besson's B90. Today, a promoter is bringing the idea up to date to fly over traffic jams, reduce road traffic and, not to mention, reduce pollution. It is an innovative concept that propels us in the air and brings a new look on urban mobility. We don't know about you, but we are interested in this mode of transportation! Zoom into the heart of the smart city that touches the sky.

Flying transport to beat traffic jams

During the successive confinements, did you observe how quiet the city was? No cars, no motorcycles, no scooters or almost no scooters going through the streets and alleys of the big cities. And when life partly resumed, our ears and nose noticed a clear difference. Our nerves too, waiting (im)patiently in the traffic jams every day. Time was suspended for a few weeks to resume even more.

And traffic jams are unsurprisingly a constant in the Smart City, in smart cities around the world. Paris, for example, is the most congested city in France and 42nd worldwide according to the ranking given by Tom-Tom Traffic Index in 2019. Its congestion rate reached 39%. The capital, its motorists, its air, its environment ... suffer and they are not alone. In Brussels, London and Rome, the rate of congestion reaches 38% while it rises to 32% in Berlin. In conclusion: all motorists in large cities suffer from the same ills: traffic jams.

Air mobility as a solution in the Smart City

This is how the slightly crazy desire to move around in the air was born, to think of a new mode of transport, an aerial mobility to take off from the tarmac. The latter even gave birth to an urban air mobility sector with vertical take-off and landing. A desire that has become more present and pressing with the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Since then, the players in the air and urban mobility sector have been hard at work. SMEs, laboratories, major groups, universities and local players are all vying for ingenuity in thinking up and forging the vehicles of tomorrow, flying transport and its infrastructure. A mode of transport that still seems futuristic but that we are beginning to touch.

And this effervescence is giving ideas to more unexpected professionals. This is the case of the developer Aqprim, which has developed a concept for a new real estate program in France that has never been seen before, a building incorporating an Airnova© vertiport. Its objective: to build high-rise buildings in smart cities, in large urban areas, that can accommodate flying cabs and delivery drones on their roofs. These flying transports could land safely on the roofs of the Smart City and, as a result, would no longer be on the ground and would relieve traffic congestion.

Flying transport with a necessary and important infrastructure in the smart city

Unsurprisingly, the biggest problem to solve in the case of air mobility is the network. If we know how to create airplanes, imagining flying transport is conceivable even if, obviously, the technical constraints are different. Thinking about the vehicle is one thing, but when it comes to developing the network and the infrastructure required to put it into service, things get more complicated. Initially, the promoter is focusing on air travel within a single city, to push the concept further in a second phase, more precisely on an inter-city scale.

The first phase of the work of Aqprim's founder, Laurent Mathiolon, therefore turned to the creation of a network that would facilitate rapid and perfectly connected links to the land and river transport networks. These same links have been designed without polluting emissions in order to respect the environmental and green concerns of the Smart City. This is how the Airnova© vertiport was born. After months and months of research and consultations in collaboration with the communication consultant Henri Guérin, the patent was filed in April 2020 for a planned publication in October 2021. This patent is based on the expertise of a multitude of qualified professionals, starting with urban planners, architects, aeronautical experts, acousticians...

The Airnova© vertiport in practice in the smart city

The idea is simple: the flying transport in the Smart City will operate "in leaps and bounds" thanks to the infrastructures built on the buildings of the Smart City. Vehicles will move from elevated platform to elevated platform so as not to interfere with the daily life of city dwellers, nor with the primary purpose of the buildings, whether they are office buildings, shops, housing or mixed-use complexes.

Individuals will be able to use a flying transport service, such as a cab, by starting the journey on the ground via a reserved elevator and then entering the vehicle from the dedicated platform. Deliveries will be managed by a concierge distributor in charge of managing the flows. Quite a program!

Would you be willing to get into a flying vehicle and fly over the city in this mode of transportation of the future? One thing is certain: fiction will soon become reality.

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