UK-based Urban-Air Port has opened a demonstrator hub for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles and autonomous cargo drones, in a car park in the centre of Coventry.
The temporary Air-One facility has been dubbed “the world’s first fully functioning hub for eVTOLs and autonomous delivery drones”, and has been designed “to demonstrate the potential of advanced air mobility globally”.
The hub will be situated in Coventry’s Westminster Car Park “for at least one month”, before being deployed to other locations in the UK and internationally.
Urban-Air Port said that Coventry had been chosen as the initial site for the facility due to its location within four hours of travel of most parts of the country. It will also form part of Coventry’s City of Culture celebrations.
Air-One has been backed by government funding, and will demonstrate aircraft command and control, eVTOL charging and cargo loading for unmanned drones, as well as hosting demonstrator flights from participants including West Midlands Police, aerial logistics firm Skyfarer, and drone developer Malloy Aeronautics.
Urban-Air Port said that the hub would “demonstrate how advanced air mobility can cut congestion and air pollution and support a zero-carbon future, integrated with electric vehicles for sustainable public transport”, while acting as a blueprint for more than 200 vertiports planned by the firm worldwide over the next five years.
Commenting on the news Ricky Sandhu, founder and executive chairman of Urban-Air Port, said:
“The opening of Air-One is a momentous moment – the starting gun for a new age of transport, an age of zero-emission, congestion-free travel between and within cities that will make people healthier, happier and more connected than ever before.
“Cars have roads. Trains have rails. Planes have airports. Now, eVTOLs have an Urban-Air Port. From design, through to fabrication and now into operation, Urban-Air Port has delivered Air-One in just 15 months, setting the standard for deployment globally and opening up a world of possibilities for rapid response air mobility.
“Air-One is just the first model in our infrastructure fleet and our order-book is not only open but already growing. The interest is turning into recognition of the need for our technology and into demand.”
A raft of airlines have announced plans for eVTOL networks in recent months, including Virgin Atlantic’s partnership with Bristol-based manufacturer Vertical Aerospace, and Japan Airlines’ target of launching commercial eVTOL flights in 2025.