Seoul aims to commercialize urban air mobility in 2025

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Hyundai Motor Group via The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

SEOUL — South Korea aims to commercialize urban air mobility (UAM) services in the domestic market in 2025 as it strives to tackle worsening traffic congestion in major cities, the transport ministry said Thursday.

The government plans to begin offering UAM services initially with one to two routes, or terminals, in the Seoul metropolitan area in 2025 and then to increase the number of terminals to 10 by 2030, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said in a statement.

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How close is urban air mobility to becoming a reality?

 

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eVTOL vehicle

So far, Uber is sticking publicly to its stated goal of beginning limited aerial ridesharing service in its pilot cities by 2023. And at least one of its vehicle partners, Joby Aviation, remains committed to certifying and operating its electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) air taxi by 2023.

The U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program, which is intended to help accelerate the certification of commercial eVTOL vehicles by providing access to testing resources and a government early-adopter market, is likewise targeting the fielding of a “small handful” of vehicles in 2023.

Uber planned to conduct flight tests on an experimental vehicle over a U.S. city later in 2020 but has not provided an update on whether the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted these plans. These flights, of a piloted vehicle without passengers, are intended to demonstrate the low noise of eVTOL vehicles, which is critical to achieving the public acceptance needed to begin commercial service.

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Scientists create world’s most heat resistant material with potential use for spaceplanes

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Unmanned aircraft flying in the upper atmosphere.

Reusable spacecraft would make space exploration both more cost-effective and accessible, which is why space agencies have been actively pursuing their development. However, spaceplanes are subjected to extreme temperatures on exiting and re-entering the atmosphere. So, materials which can withstand the scorching temperatures are needed in their construction.

Scientists from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Moscow have now fabricated a ceramic material which is more heat resistant than any other.

The previous material to hold the title of “most heat resistant” was tested in 2016 by a team from the Imperial College London. Using a laser heating technique which allowed them to test the material at extreme temperatures, they calculated that a chemical compound of the elements hafnium, a transition metal, and carbon had the highest melting point ever recorded at the time. Their findings showed hafnium carbide melted at just under 4000 degrees Celsius.

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The first long-distance drone deliveries in the U.S. are bringing PPE to healthcare workers

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If a hospital in Huntersville, North Carolina, needs to quickly replenish its supply of surgical masks and gowns as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it will now be able to summon a drone to make a delivery. Novant Health, the nonprofit that runs the hospital and hundreds of other facilities in the Southeast, just became the first hospital system to be granted a drone operator permit from the FAA. The system will begin the first long-range, ongoing drone deliveries in the U.S., using technology from Zipline, a startup that first launched its services in Africa.

“We believe this will allow us to, in a very precise, on-demand way, get supplies to where they need to be exactly when they need to be there,” says Angela Yochem, executive vice president and chief digital and technology officer at Novant Health. The organization already has a well-tuned distribution system, and has calculated that if coronavirus cases surge in the region, it has enough personal protective equipment to cover the need. But it also wanted to do everything possible to prepare for the crisis—and will eventually use the same system to make more routine deliveries.

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The Air Force’s AI-powerd ‘Skyborg’ drones could fly as early as 2023

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The drones would fly alongside Air Force warplanes, doing jobs too dangerous or dull for pilots.

The Air Force is soliciting the aerospace industry to provide flyable “Skyborg” drones by 2023.

The drones will be powered by artificial intelligence, capable of taking off, landing, and performing missions on their own.

Skyborg will not only free manned pilots from dangerous and dull missions but allow the Air Force to add legions of new, unpiloted, cheap planes.

The U.S. Air Force is finally pushing into the world of robot combat drones, vowing to fly the first of its “Skyborg” drones by 2023. The service envisions Skyborg as a merging of artificial intelligence with jet-powered drones. The result will be drones capable of flying alongside fighter jets, carrying out dangerous missions. Skyborg drones will be much cheaper than piloted aircraft, allowing the Air Force to grow its fleet at a lower cost.

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Pulse eVTOL concept drops its cabin onto an autonomous car chassis

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The EmbraerX Pulse features a stylish glassed-over cabin that slots into both electric car and eVTOL bodies for seamless multi-mode end-to-end transport

Here’s one we missed from several months ago: Brazilian eVTOL innovator EmbraerX put forth a fun video showing how a multi-mode 3D transport system might work, with an eVTOL air taxi carrying a detachable glassed-over cabin that it delivers straight onto a self-driving car chassis.

The coming new breed of eVTOL air taxis are nearly all, at this stage, designed to work as part of a multi-mode transport scheme. The flying taxis themselves will travel from skyport to skyport, meaning you’ll need other means to get yourself to the takeoff point and something else again at the other end for the last mile. It’s simply not practical to expect eVTOLs to drop you off right at your destination.

Companies like Uber are salivating at the thought of being able to offer the whole service as a single sale, co-ordinating a car at each end to minimize travel time, but that starts looking like a bit of an annoyance when you consider the hope is that people will use these things for the daily commute. Four taxis and two eVTOLs every day is a pain.

And so we get this concept from Embraer’s flying taxi division EmbraerX. The Pulse system has a single, shared, glassed-over luxury cabin that can click into an eVTOL airframe or clip onto a skateboard electric car chassis, something like what REE makes.

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These ‘reverse’ airplane seats could be the new way to fly

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Though the coronavirus has temporarily reshaped the world we live in and set into place a “new normal,” the pandemic could also have major lasting effects on the way we go about our day-to-day months, or even years, down the road. For example, Avio Interiors, an Italy-based airline design firm, just proposed a new plan for “reverse” airplane seats, which could become the new way to fly in a post-pandemic world.

The design, called “Janus” after the two-faced Roman god, is a new take on the three-seater plan. Rather than all three seats facing toward the front of the plane, the Janus design proposes that the middle seat face backward. This ensures “maximum isolation between passengers seated next to each other,” as Avio Interiors explains in a April 20 Instagram post.

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The Air Force is tired of waiting, so it’s kickstarting the flying car industry

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The goal is to have a fully operational flying car fleet by 2023.

Agility Prime is the U.S. Air Force’s new commercial development program for flying cars. In part, the Air Force wants to create a healthy domestic industry for the vehicles to keep abreast of security concerns.

By 2023, the Air Force hopes to have an operational fleet of the vehicles.

It feels like the U.S. has been on the brink of a flying car revolution for half a century. Every so often, a company claims to be just two or three years away from the perfect avian vehicle. In 2011, it was rumored that a company called Terrafugia would have $227,000 flying cars “in a matter of months,” and even Uber has promised to have autonomous flyers by 2023.

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Hong Kong airport brings in cleaning robots and disinfection booth

(CNN) — Cleaning robots, temperature checks and antimicrobial coatings could soon become synonymous with airport trips.

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has provided a glimpse into what international airport procedures might look like once we’re traveling again, and a lot of disinfection technologies are involved.

The busy Asia airport claims it’s the first in the world to trial a live operation of CLeanTech, a full-body disinfection booth.

The short, but thorough, process sees those passing through undertake a temperature check before entering a small booth for the 40-second disinfection and sanitizing procedures.

According to the airport authority, the inside of the facility contains an antimicrobial coating that can remotely kill any viruses and/or bacteria found on clothing, as well as the body, by using photocatalyst advances along with “nano needles.”

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Design firm proposes new airline seating arrangements in response to coronavirus pandemic

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Although the chances of contracting COVID-19 on an airplane are low, there are certain precautions passengers can take and protocol in place for the CDC to follow if a sick passenger is reported.

An Italian manufacturing firm has unveiled two of its concepts for aircraft seating in a post-coronavirus world, both of which propose some degree of physical separation among passengers seated in the same row.

Aviointeriors, a company that was once mocked for its “standing” plane seats, shared both designs to social media this week, explaining how each would promote “isolation” among travelers on the same aircraft.

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Here’s what you do with two-thirds of the world’s jets when they can’t fly

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Just finding space to park can be a problem, and idle planes require a surprising amount of work, from maintaining hydraulics to stopping birds from nesting.

The skies are eerily empty these days, presenting a new challenge for the world’s embattled airlines as they work to safeguard thousands of grounded planes parked wingtip to wingtip on runways and in storage facilities.

More than 16,000 passenger jets are grounded worldwide, according to industry researcher Cirium, as the coronavirus obliterates travel and puts unprecedented strain on airline finances. Finding the right space and conditions for 62% of the world’s planes and keeping them airworthy have suddenly become priorities for 2020.

Aircraft can’t simply be dusted back into action. They need plenty of work and attention while in storage, from maintenance of hydraulics and flight-control systems to protection against insects and wildlife — nesting birds can be a problem. Then there’s humidity, which can corrode parts and damage interiors. Even when parked on runways, planes are often loaded with fuel to keep them from rocking in the wind and to ensure tanks stay lubricated.

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Get ready for all-electric flying car races, they’re coming

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The Formula E electric-vehicle racing series was conceived in 2011. Nearly a decade later, EVs are well on the way to mass commercialization. Airspeeder, the first motorsports program for electric flying cars, this week announced raising a seven-figure sum to launch its series. Founders of the flying EV series believe it could accelerate progress toward mainstream sustainable, electric air mobility.

The company announced it had secured funding from two of Australia’s leading technology venture capital firms, Saltwater Capital and Jelix Ventures. Alauda, the tech company behind the series, is based in Adelaide, South Australia. Other investors include EQUALS, a financial firm, and the German logistics company DHL.

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