A system of flying taxis and shuttles helping people commute to and from work sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but it's now a reality thanks to a group of engineers led by the University of California San Diego.
The UC San Diego team recently received a $5.8 million University Leadership Initiative grant from NASA to work on the three-year project.
"This project is part of a growing field called urban air mobility, an exciting vision enabling point-to-point, on-demand air travel within densely populated areas,” said John Hwang, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego. He is also the principal investigator for the project.
“We will combine multidisciplinary computational models of urban air mobility vehicles and advanced design optimization algorithms to develop methods and tools for rapidly designing safe, quiet, and affordable vehicle concepts," said Hwang.
The rollout for these futuristic vehicles is expected within five years. A market study commissioned by NASA estimates the system will be serviceable and profitable by the 2030s.
Not only is the system an incredible feat from a tech perspective, but it is also expected to help reduce congestion in metro areas around the country.
"The goal of urban air mobility is to ease traffic congestion and reduce travel times," said Hwang. "For example, a 90-minute ground commute to a downtown workplace could be reduced to a 15-minute air taxi flight."
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