Drone taxis? Hyundai, ANRA Technologies partner on Advanced Air Mobility

Will flying taxis be part of the future? We believe the answer is a definitive “yes,” and an increasing number of major companies are preparing themselves for the future. Among them? A division of Hyundai Motor Group.

First, a quick recap on Urban Air Mobility or UAM. This phrase is increasingly being used as we head into an era where new and different types of air traffic are routinely flying at low altitudes over urban areas. These vehicles include drones on delivery, as well as new types of personal aerial transport, both crewed and pilotless. So yes, we envision (as do others) a day when you might be able to summon a drone taxi with an app on your phone, climb in, and get out on the other side of a major city.

Building on the UAM concept is something called Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), which takes things a step further. AAM is not specific to urban centres and might involve commercial inter-city flight, as well as private/recreational vehicles. (The FAA has a good page explaining the UAM/AAM distinction here.)

There are still hurdles, of course, but a lot of work is already underway.

Hyundai and ANRA Technologies

The latest news on this front comes in the form of a news release. Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility Division has announced that it will be partnering with ANRA Technologies. The latter is a company that specializes in end-to-end drone solutions and traffic management solutions for unmanned system operators and airspace managers. Together, says the release, they will “begin developing the operating environment for the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) industry.”

The release says this is but the first “in a series of air traffic management partnerships Hyundai plans to establish in the development of an industry consortium building the AAM operating ecosystem.”

First steps

It’s a significant announcement, but it’s also, according to Pamela Cohn, chief operating officer, Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group, just the first step:

We are pleased to partner with ANRA Technologies to begin building toward the safe and efficient integration of AAM into existing airspace. As an emerging mobility solution, it is critical diverse parties work together to co-create the AAM ecosystem, including its necessary digital and physical infrastructure. ANRA brings a unique background of operational history in the drone services sector that will help define the operating environment for all AAM vehicles.

Will the future look like this? Maybe not exactly, but you get the idea…

Multiple pieces to AAM puzzle

Of course, there’s a lot more to Urban Air Mobility/Advanced Air Mobility than simply creating vehicles that can fly. A ton of other moving parts have to sync up to ensure that there’s no conflict with other airspace traffic and to ensure that regulators (including Air Traffic Control) can see at a glance where things are. The founder and CEO of ANRA Technologies, Amit Ganjoo, is excited about the prospect of working with Hyundai to provide solutions and strategic input on these and other issues:

ANRA’s SmartSkies family of airspace management solutions have been proven worldwide and provide the critical support required for complex AAM operations at scale. We take a long-term view in everything we do as a company and are looking forward to integrating our advanced technologies with the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group’s AAM ecosystem and sharing our knowledge and experience to ensure the success of our partnership and help move our industry safely forward.

DroneDJ’s take

A large number of companies, large and small, are showing increasing interest in the whole UAM/AAM future. There is significant research – and investment – taking place to help ensure the eventual safe integration of the coming generation of aircraft that will take to the skies.

When will all this happen? Not overnight. As mentioned, there are many pieces to this puzzle, including a lot of software integration (in addition to the testing and certification of the vehicles themselves). However, we do believe the day will come – probably five years or so from now, if we had to guess – when these new vehicles start routinely taking flight over major urban centres.

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