Prasad Satyavolu, CDO and Global Head of Innovation for Manufacturing, logistics, energy and utilities at Cognizant:
“According to the UN, 68% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050. As more and more people flock to cities, we will see increased traffic congestion, and greater pressure on urban transportation and mobility. To overcome this we are seeing technology companies such as Uber announce that it is partnering with NASA to design an urban-air traffic control system and the British firm Skyport prepare to open the world’s first hub for electric aircrafts in Singapore. Both Skyport’s ‘vertiport’ – a vertical take off and landing station – and the urban-air traffic control system could significantly advance the reality of flying taxis.
“However, there are a number of factors that currently stand in the way of making an airborne highway a reality. What is most likely to slow down the emergence and adoption of flying taxis is something that we take for granted: our infrastructure. A transport system is traditionally made up of a number of components – humans, infrastructure, businesses, government, policy and different modes of transport and all of these need to be considered when taking to the skies. Our systems are currently not ready to deal with the complexities of high-density traffic in the air. And unless businesses and governments work together to scale to the demand, we will face a new kind of congestion – digital congestion. Further to this, the energy ecosystem for flying taxis needs attention. The changing landscape of propulsion technologies from fossil fuel based to an electrically charged battery powered environment needs greater development to enable flying taxis.
“To overcome these problems and risks, we need to adopt a consortium-based approach, where entrepreneurs, organisations and governments work collaboratively to introduce flying vehicles one step at a time.”