URBAN V will be the first company to explore and plan the development of a system and network of Vertiports to enable widespread use of passenger carrying drones in the Caribbean.
A Vertiport is a landing platform allowing eVTOLs (drones carrying passengers, air taxis, cargo services) to take off and land vertically. The company is currently in dialogue with an airline in the region regarding a pilot project linking several islands. This project could become the launching pad for the region's advanced air mobility market. URBAN V is establishing other partnerships in the Caribbean. Stakeholders could be airports, airlines, cruise ports, and even large hotels or resorts.
URBAN V is a company owned by Aeroporti di Roma, the SAVE group of airports (Venice, Treviso, Verona, Brescia) Aeroporto di Bologna in Italy and Aéroports de la Côte d'Azur (Nice, Cannes, Saint-Tropez) in France, for the development of advanced air mobility (AAM) infrastructures at the international level.
“We have the ambition to be among the first in the world to launch commercial advanced air mobility networks. We plan to activate the first route at the end of 2024 in Rome”, according to Massimiliano Pane, head of business development and finance of URBAN V. “In October 2022, URBAN V unveiled in Rome the first test vertiport of Europe, adjacent to one of the busiest airport hubs in Europe, with public test flights with crew".
passenger drones can carry 2 to 6 people
Inter-island air mobility with electric-powered drones will arrive in the Caribbean as a solution to bridge the inter-island barrier, water. This will be a game-changer for progressive island territories. In a region that relies heavily on tourism, passenger drones will also become a tourist attraction to see the islands from the air.
The development of special physical and digital vertiports is crucial for the success of this segment of air transport. Networks of vertiports with appropriate navigation systems will be developed. A vertiport can be as small as the roof of a hotel. In metropolitan areas, it is possible to fly from rooftop to rooftop. In the Caribbean, it could contribute to the economic development of small islands. In the yachting industry, it could connect yachts to terrestrial vertiports. Future Olympics and other events are planning to use it in their stadiums.
Passenger drones for 2 to 6 people are under development. Eventually, they will be able to cover distances of up to 200 km or more. When certified by the government, they will be as safe as the flights of any aircraft. United Airlines recently placed an order for the delivery of 200 four-person drone taxis for short-haul passenger transport, with an option for another 200. American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic have announced partnerships with drone developers. Aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing are developing drones for passenger transport. They all essentially share the same vision: eVTOL is the future. Automakers General Motors and Volkswagen Group have unveiled their first prototype passenger drones. There are about 200 programs at different stages of maturity.
First commercial air taxi services planned for 2024
The passenger drone is made possible by advances in many technologies. Power supply means there is no carbon footprint. Another catalyst for development is the simple fact that there is money to be made and a huge return on investment. The need for passenger transport drones is going to grow rapidly around the world. In 2021 alone, the main companies active in the industrialization of these aerial vehicles have raised private capital of more than 5 billion US dollars. The passenger drone market is expected to reach US$9 billion by 2030 and US$1 trillion in the next twenty years.
How long will it take for all of this to happen? It will take until 2024/25 to see the first commercial air taxi services appear, whether in Orlando, New York, Dubai, Singapore, Paris or Rome. The pilot project of URBAN V and the regional airline connecting a number of islands are to follow in the Caribbean. _AF
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