(Image courtesy: SAE International/Mark DeAngelo)

Battery technology is still the key barrier to better urban air mobility

During a panel session titled “Flying Cars – Will You Have One In Your Garage?” Mark Moore, former NASA engineer and current engineering director of aviation at Uber, recalled Orville Wright’s thoughts on aviation: that it can have a daily impact on our lives.

“We’re in a new age of Wright Brothers-like flight where there’s all sorts of new opportunities,” said Moore. “Some of these small companies are going to turn into future aerospace giants because they have the agility and the ability to execute and attract talent that big companies don’t have right now. We’re in a very exciting time of disruption in aerospace, especially in regard to the urban air mobility market.”

The potential of daily on-demand aviation in and around cities is a major goal of many aerospace start-ups, including those that participated in the panel at SAE International’s AeroTech Americas 2019 event in Charleston, South Carolina. Companies like Zeva Aero, Detroit Flying Cars, and Varon Vehicles, are continuing to develop various vehicle types, whether they generate lift during forward flight or use a multi-rotor vertical flight approach, to make widespread personal urban air mobility (UAM) a reality in the coming years.

When asked “What is the biggest challenge facing UAM?” most engineers agreed that battery technology is still the enabler and barrier.


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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.

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