Artist’s rendering of an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) urban air mobility (UAM) vehicle – or “air taxi” – flying above an urban center. (Image courtesy: Dave Brenner/University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability)

Ford and University of Michigan team up on first-ever sustainability study of urban air mobility

According to a new study published in Nature Communications, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles – commonly referred to as “flying cars” – are better suited to longer flights than shorter commutes. The study, “Role of flying cars in sustainable mobility,” was authored by engineers from the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems (CSS) and from the Ford Motor Company’s Research and Advanced Engineering team and is the first comprehensive sustainability assessment of UAM

The authors determined that deploying UAM systems in geographically constrained and congested urban areas would be beneficial, especially as part of a ride-share service – citing that fully-booked UAM vehicles would be more effective than ground vehicles in transporting passengers “from San Francisco to San Jose or from Detroit to Cleveland.”



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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

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