Mapping autonomous urban air mobility's progress
Autonomous urban transportation in the air: 100 projects have taken off globally
Self-flying vehicles and futuristic drones speeding through the air above big cities: The stuff of science fiction just a few decades ago, this scenario is now within reach. Urban air mobility (UAM) is the name for the real race that is now on worldwide, a race to commercially conquer the third dimension of urban mobility: the airspace above us.
The competitors in this race come from all different disciplines. Manufacturers of airplanes, helicopters and vehicles are represented, alongside mobility and delivery service providers. But there are also plenty of non-industry players involved, such as consumer goods producers, pharmaceutical companies, telecommunications firms, research institutes, as well as city authorities, nations and supranational entities. Some of them are doing their own thing, but most of them are playing in mixed teams. The ecosystem is complex and the challenges in urban air mobility projects are extensive.
The projects that players are currently embarking upon, be it as pilot projects or with the clear aim of later commercial exploitation, are equally diverse. However, the dynamism among the participants, along with the diversity of the projects, have made it very difficult to see exactly how things are evolving in this sphere.
As a leading global consultancy for aerospace, automotive, transportation and logistics, telecommunications, digitalization and urban infrastructure, Roland Berger is very familiar with all facets of the urban air mobility ecosystem. With the aim of providing an overview of the current situation and thereby promoting transparency and cooperation, we have compiled an interactive world map of all currently relevant projects. The map focuses on projects that primarily target the use of autonomous drones to transport passengers, goods/parcels/mail and medication/first aid supplies around urban areas. The map will be updated at regular intervals as further urban mobility projects are added into the mix.
Status of implementation:
2 or more UAM projects
10 or more UAM projects
Definitions and scope
The Roland Berger Urban Air Mobility (UAM) map includes global autonomous (mid- to long term) urban air mobility projects focusing on the use cases (1) passenger transport, (2) delivery & e-commerce (cargo), (3) medical, emergency & security (excl. small piloted police drones), (4) other purposes like inspection and traffic control as well as (5) general UAM testing and research. Explicitly not included are projects focusing on military defense use cases, on agricultural use cases, on inspection use cases outside of urban areas and on leisure use cases.
The flight area is mainly classified in (a) Intra-city & metropolitan area (incl. airport transport) with flight distances typically below 100 km and (b) Inter-city with connection of two or more cities with potential flight distances also above 100 km.
Web search, with special focus on following websites:
https://www.unmannedairspace.info; https://transportup.com; https://evtol.news/tag/urban-air-mobility/; https://www.suasnews.com; https://eu-smartcities.eu
Of the 100 or so projects currently identified, almost half are being conducted in Europe, almost one third in Asia-Pacific and around one fifth in the United States. Three areas, namely online trade and delivery, medication/first aid transportation and general development, account for 25% each. Only around 15% of projects are concerned with passenger transportation. More than half of projects concern the flying distance within a single city or metropolitan area (incl. the local airport).