Urban Air Mobility
The explosive growth of the world population in the 21st century accelerates urbanization on a global scale, personal mobility represented by automobiles is not limited to widespread with innovation of electricization and digitalization. However, the flat road infrastructure in large cities reaches the limit, the traffic congestion in the city is serious, the loss of this energy and time value is huge. Also, in large cities, it has a high-rise structure and it is inevitably required to move three-dimensionally, access by the elevator from the ground surface is extremely inefficient including in the case of disasters. There is personal air mobility (ride freely going and coming freely in space) as a form of transport of such a near future city (like a science-fiction film), but there are many technical problems and it has not been realized. Airplanes and helicopters that are popular as spatially moving vehicles are designed to move at high speed controlled airspace with no obstacles, so it doesn’t match the requirements of the above-mentioned personal urban air transportation method.
In recent years, the unmanned aerial vehicle (drone), which has been rapidly industrialized in aerial photography and transportation of goods, has realized stable vertical take-off and landing, levitation and flying with multiple high power electric compact propellers, high energy density batteries, ultra-small attitude control sensors by MEMS technology, and it has expanded its application range as well as automatic control by IoT. And by utilizing this drone technology for vehicle of personnel transport size, feasibility of personal air mobility has been raised. These are called Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and attracted attention as a next-generation personal transportation means such as air taxis, and large-scale upfront investment including Airbus and other existing aircraft manufacturers has started all over the world. The space that this UAM flying is exclusively the valley of a building and the sky over the houses, it is a vehicle that can not be handled by the aviation law targeting conventional aircraft, and there are many problems to be solved for realization. However, UAM has the potential to revamp the paradigm of transportation and logistics, and also there are some incalculable economic effects, as a high-efficiency means of point-to-point without low noise, zero emissions, no runway, no control skills required, no traffic infrastructure, and as a category of new vehicles that appeared following automobiles, railways, ships, and aircraft.
We have established this institute to investigate, research, and develop next-generation aviation transportation based on the UAM. This laboratory aims to be a place for information exchange and knowledge sharing with related researchers, related ministries and beneficiaries, and municipalities and manufacturers, about a high-efficiency flight control systems including collision avoidance for vehicles flying in urban spaces including conventional aircraft, the response to weather conditions, the safety of the crew at the time of an accident and the safety of the ground, the aircraft specifications to ensure economic efficiency, and the performance of the motor and batteries, which is an issue for realizing UAM society. In addition, we will conduct practical research with related ministries and researchers on the electric propulsion unit, which is one of UAM’s key technologies, through the electrification of LSA (Light Sport Aircraft), a new small aircraft category, and the introduction of categories into Japan. Moreover, we will evaluate the practical potential of the new transportation and logistics systems using the UAM from the marketing field.
Our research activities will not only help us to evaluate the viability of the UAM, but also contribute to the development of young people who will respond to the shortage of aircraft design engineers and the shortage of pilots in the past. And we hope that the knowledge and achievements obtained will lead to the development of laws and environment for next-generation aviation.
Hosei University Urban Air Mobility Laboratory
Director, Gaku Minorikawa, (Professor at Hosei University, Faculty of Science and Engineering Course of Mechanical Engineering)