Urban Air Mobility (UAM) refers to small, highly automated aircraft transporting passengers or cargo at lower altitudes in urban and suburban areas in response to traffic congestion. Vertical-Takeoff-and-Landing Aircraft (VTOL), traditional helicopters, electrically propelled Vertical-Takeoff-and-Landing Aircraft (eVTOL), and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are examples of existing and emerging technologies. Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is distinguished by using multiple electric-powered rotors or fans for lift, propulsion, and fly-by-wire control systems. Inventors have experimented with UAM concepts since the dawn of powered flight.
Fortune Business Insights states that the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market size was estimated at USD 2.90 billion in 2020 and will rise to USD 8.91 billion by 2028, exhibiting a CAGR of 16.77% during the projected period.
COVID-19 Pandemic Harmed the Market Severely
The COVID-19 outbreak had a significant impact on the market. The outbreak resulted in lockdowns in several developed and developing countries, including the U.S., the U.K., China, and India. All research and development activities have been halted due to the economic crisis. These factors have harmed market growth. Furthermore, the pandemic affected the aviation sector significantly in 2020, causing ripple effects on the UAM sector since the most prominent players in the sector are connected to the aviation industry either directly or indirectly.
Many emerging UAM firms lost businesses due to lockdowns in high-growth areas. Due to development delays and low revenue generation, large firms reduced their investment in UAM R&D while small firms have stopped working on UAM. Therefore, UAM commercialization has been delayed by more than a year compared to pre-COVID-19 conditions.
Growing Demand for Alternative Modes of Transport will Boost Market Growth
Transportation infrastructure must be properly managed to allow mass mobility with an increasingly urban population. As a result, cities globally are looking into alternative modes of transportation to help alleviate traffic congestion. The use of self-driving drones in Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is intended to provide benefits such as shorter travel times, reduced pollution, and reduced demand on the current transportation infrastructure. Increasing traffic problems in densely populated cities is one of the primary factors driving the growth of the market. Long traffic jams are caused by increased urban road traffic, resulting in unnecessary travel time.
Increasing Environmental Concerns to Create Opportunities in the Market
Transportation, which consumes a significant amount of energy, is the second most cause of pollution. This sector’s significant greenhouse gas emissions have a negative impact on the climate. Such issues can be addressed by using eVTOL aircraft for Urban Air Mobility (UAM). With cities implementing unmanned systems for next-generation transportation, recent technological advancements in this sector will create promising growth opportunities.
Global Demand for UAM Systems is Growing Due to Rising Investment
Commuters spend significantly more time on the road due to increased road traffic, particularly during peak hours. In most countries, the current road infrastructure is incapable of handling peak-hour traffic without causing people to queue. It is not only a waste of time for citizens but also serves as a litmus test for governments. Furthermore, rising on-road commercial vehicle volumes that use fossil fuels devastate the environment.
Given the importance of traffic congestion and urban road mobility, governments and technology companies have begun considering UAMs as potential passenger and cargo transportation options. It may save a significant amount of time because this is a secure and convenient air transport system in which passenger-carrying air taxis operate above population centers.
Cybersecurity Concerns Create Potential Challenges for the Industry
With Urban Air Mobility (UAM) relying on software, cybersecurity is a potentially critical vulnerability. Threats to onboard networks and code, attacks on vehicle/Air Traffic Control (ATC) data, and the emergence of confrontational or incorrect data used for safety-critical decisions and/or machine learning are all concerns with advanced aerial mobility.
The reliance on other complex and software-intensive systems, such as ATC, GPS, and various shared communications networks, will also increase vulnerability. New cybersecurity and safety model construction and design approaches are needed to make Urban Air Mobility (UAM) a success. The proposed paradigm shifts for providing safety are also pertinent to cybersecurity. More research & development is still needed to develop new technology to secure automated aircraft from cyber threats.
The Bright Future of the UAM Industry
Since air traffic is more strictly regulated than road traffic, it takes time to develop and test policies and regulations before this mode of transportation may be used by the general public without risks. However, the future of UAM seems to prosper in the forthcoming years as the preference for air travel increases.