Urban air mobility, also known as Advanced Air Mobility, refers to urban transportation systems that move people by air. These transportation systems developed in response to traffic congestion. Urban air mobility is a subset of a broader Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) concept that includes other use cases than intracity passenger transport. NASA describes Advanced Air Mobility as including small drones, electric aircraft, and automated air traffic management among other technologies to perform a wide variety of missions including cargo and logistics.
Air mobility is progressing along both manned and unmanned directions. In Hamburg, the WiNDroVe project – (use of drones in a metropolitan area) was implemented from May 2017 through January 2018. In Ingolstadt, Germany the Urban Air Mobility project began in June 2018, involving Audi, Airbus, the Carisma Research Center, the Fraunhofer Application Center for Mobility, the THI University of Applied Sciences (THI in the artificial intelligence research network) and other partners. Envisioned was use of UAM in emergency services, transport of blood and organs, traffic monitoring, public safety and passenger transport.
The German, Dutch and Belgian cities Maastricht, Aachen, Hasselt, Heerlen and Liège joined the UAM Initiative of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC). Toulouse, France, is participating in the European Urban Air Mobility Initiative. The project is coordinated by Airbus, the European institutional partner Eurocontrol and EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency).
The concept was realized in São Paulo, Brazil, with over 15,000 passengers flown by Voom. There, urban air mobility was provided by helicopters. Helicopter air taxis are already available in Mexico City, Mexico. Fast air connections are still associated with high costs, and cause considerable noise and high energy consumption.
The Voom UAM demonstration program operated for four years, and was shut down in March 2020.
Personal air vehicles are under development for urban air mobility. These include projects such as the CityAirbus demonstrator, the Lilium Jet or the Volocopter, the EHang 216 and the experimental Boeing Passenger Air Vehicle.
In the concept phase, urban air mobility aircraft, having VTOL capabilities, are deployed to take off and land vertically in a relatively small area to avoid the need of a runway. The majority of designs are electric and use multiple rotors to minimize noise (due to rotational speed) while providing high system redundancy. Many of them have completed their first flight.
The most common configurations of urban air mobility aircraft are multicopters (such as the Volocopter) or so-called tiltwing convertiplane aircraft (e.g. A³ Vahana). The first type uses only rotors with vertical axis, while the second additionally have propulsion and lift systems for horizontal flight (e.g. pressure propeller and wing).