Published on September 5th, 2018 | by Nicolas Zart0
The Airbus A³ Altiscope Blueprint For A Safe Urban Air Mobility Strategy
September 5th, 2018 by Nicolas Zart
The future of autonomous aircraft vehicles for urban mobility is taking shape and the Airbus A³’s Altiscope blueprint skymap wants to show how to safely integrate these various aircraft configurations into our electric air mobility future.
The Airbus A³ Altiscope Project
We’re fans of Airbus, and not just because it quoted CleanTechnica in a recent email newsletter. The company has been at the forefront of electric aircraft and seems intent on keeping it that way.
In 2017, more than 3.5 billion passengers traveled by air, a 10-fold increase over the last 30 years. Obviously, not only clean mobility is needed, but also a way to efficiently coordinate the various designs and capacity of these autonomous air vehicles for our urban air mobility world.
That’s where Airbus A³’s Altiscope project, which was launched in November 2016 as a think tank focused on unmanned aerial traffic management systems (UTM), steps in. The idea behind the group is to find regulations to help policymakers enable future air mobility options — from flying electric bicycles to electric airplanes, hovering vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to electric helicopters, and more. So far, the unbridled enthusiasm of design means that coordination now is needed. How will we manage a wide variety of electric flying vehicles?
UTM is not a single, central system that mandates one way of operating for everything. Instead, it is a framework. It is a networked collection of services that join together and understand each other, based on common rules.
What The Future Of Our Electric Air Mobility Looks Like
Airbus says that based on it estimates using various public and private data, there will be between one and two orders of magnitude more aircraft in the sky by the year 2035, depending on jurisdiction, population density, geography, and economic needs.
Spefically, how Airbus sees the airspace use is as follow.
- From 200 to 400 ft in the US, the airspace will mostly be for imaging and analytics — think personal drones.
- Higher up, 0 to 1000 ft, is the airspace mostly used by delivery platforms, such as the Airbus Aerial and other air taxi services.
- From 200 to 1200 ft is that of light electric aircraft making speedy deliveries.
- 1000 to 3000 ft is for the Uber Elevate, Airbus Voom, and other faster, further electric air mobility services.
- Within the 500 to 5000 ft arena are Bell helicopters, Sikorski, and Airbus General Aviation (GA) aircraft. This airspace is really for private, non-commercial flight, whether high-performance business jets, medical transports, gliders, or flight trainers.
Where things get complicated are in the airspace that requires a few hundred feet to 60,000 and above. Those categories encroach on each other and will require constant reviewing.
Airbus chose to use NASA’s Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) for the coordination of our airspace. The platform creates a framework for safely managing growing low-altitude airspace traffic.
Its European version, the SESAR Joint Undertaking, is already developing the U-space, a project endorsed by the European Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, and opens the continental market for drone services and aircraft.
Developing Our Future Unmanned Aerial Traffic Management System
This new air traffic management automation is important as it lays down the first foundations for our electric air mobility world. While it might not be as sensational a headline as other chest-beating news, we welcome this behind-the-scenes work that will enable all those breakthroughs and lofty plans to take flight.
Where the electric vehicle revolution has failed us is by concentrating on the physical breakthroughs and not enough on the user, the most fundamental element of the whole thing.
In the meantime, you can read more on the company’s blog here. We look forward to finding out how the Airbus A³ Altiscope Blueprint will integrate, coordinate, and synchronize this new world of autonomous and urban air mobility.