The world’s first mobile airport for flying cars and autonomous delivery drones has won government backing and will be launched in Coventry later this year, it has been announced.
Air-One has been designed to transform urban transport – allowing air taxis and electric drones to land and recharge, helping to reduce congestion, cut air pollution, and contribute to a zero-carbon future.
The zero-emission airport, designed by Urban Air Port, can be installed in a matter of days and has been backed by Hyundai Motor Group which plans to have commercialised its own flying vehicles by 2028.
Coventry City Council and the UK Government are also supporting the world first, which will be located next to the city’s Ricoh Arena.
Air-One has been developed for the forthcoming ‘urban air mobility’ revolution which is estimated to be worth almost £1 trillion over the next 20 years as companies and authorities invest in Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft and the infrastructure it requires.
It can be operated off-grid and can also be integrated with electric vehicles and sustainable public transport.
Pamela Cohn, chief operating officer for the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group, said: “As we advance our eVTOL aircraft programme, development of supporting infrastructure is imperative.
“Air-One is a unique project that is set to help lead the way in developing a robust, accessible and intermodal infrastructure network for future mobility.
“We are excited to be part of this partnership in the UK and look forward to working together to create community impact and opportunity through safe, affordable, and human-centred mobility solutions.”
The airport – which is around 60 per cent smaller than a heliport – will be the first of more than 200 zero emission sites Urban Air Port plans to install worldwide over the next five years in response to global demand.
Initially, it will be used to help the public understand the new technology, with Malloy Aeronautics, a UK-based drone developer, demonstrating the use of large cargo drones at the site.
Its design allows the airport to be easily dismantled and moved to alternative sites, as the air-mobility sector develops.
Alongside urban environments, the design has been developed with disaster emergency management in mind.
They can rapidly deploy drones and other eVTOL to collect and transport emergency supplies, equipment and people where needed.
Ricky Sandhu, founder and executive chairman of Urban Air Port, said: “Cars need roads. Trains need rails. Planes need airports. eVTOLs will need Urban Air Ports.
“Over a hundred years ago, the world’s first commercial flight took off, creating the modern connected world.
“Urban Air Port will improve connectivity across our cities, boost productivity and help the UK to take the lead in a whole new clean global economy.
“Flying cars used to be a futuristic flight of fancy. Air-One will bring clean urban air transport to the masses and unleash a new airborne world of zero emission mobility.”
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Coventry City Council Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, said: “We are already a city that is helping to shape the future of electric transport and this is yet another ground-breaking project that puts Coventry at the forefront of new technologies.
“It highlights how the council is working alongside a range of organisations to help shape a better, greener future.”
Oriol Badia, CEO of Malloy Aeronautics, added: “It is a key goal for Malloy – to introduce unmanned air logistics into an urban environment and merge it with supporting infrastructure that is flexible and resilient, hosting intelligent operating systems and state of the art innovation.
“Air-One provides the ability to service multiple transport requirements of the future – from disaster relief to essential and everyday supplies for citizens across the UK.”
Alongside investment from Hyundai, Urban Air Port has been awarded a £1.2 million grant from UK Research and Innovation’s Future Flight Challenge.
Gary Cutts, UK Research and Innovation Future Flight Challenge Director, said: “Urban Air Port has the potential to revolutionise cities across the world, making them more connected, cleaner and accelerating our green economic recovery.
“This project epitomises the purpose of the Future Flight Challenge fund – it is innovation at its finest – and will help to position the UK at the vanguard of electric urban air mobility.”