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Government backs Urban Air Port hub for drone deliveries

The UK Government has backed Urban Air Port’s Air-One hub for electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft.

Based in Coventry, the new site will serve future air taxis and autonomous delivery drones.

It will be developed in partnership with Hyundai Motor Group, Coventry City Council and the UK Government.

Urban Air Port has been awarded a £1.2 million grant from UK Research and Innovation’s Future Flight Challenge. The programme is funded by £125 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and is expected to be matched by up to £175 million from industry.

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.”

The company plans to install more than 200 zero emission sites worldwide over the next five years in response to global demand.

NASA predicts that urban-air mobility in the US alone could be worth up to $500 billion USD (£375 billion) in the near-term and states that a significant barrier to market growth is the lack of infrastructure, an issue which Urban Air Port was established to resolve.

The Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group has chosen Urban Air Port as its priority infrastructure partner to support the global growth of this new sector. The South Korean company plans to create its own eVTOL aircraft and support the broader urban air mobility eco-system.

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 physical footprint of an Urban Air Port is 60% smaller than a traditional heliport (the most comparable existing infrastructure). Using innovative construction, the sites can be installed in a matter of days, emit net zero carbon emissions and can be operated completely off-grid, meaning they do not always have to rely on a suitable grid connection.

Gary Cutts, UK Research and Innovation Future Flight Challenge director, added: “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.”

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