Are we prepared for UAM to be a reality?

With one foot in industry and other in research, it feels like talks of UAM are much louder in the commercial sector compared to research sector. Look at the image below for the distribution of research. After scouting through scientific databases, I see that mainstream studies, almost 70%, belong to engineering and technology (in yellow). Research in transportation, computer science, telecommunication, and automation & control are low (in orange), yet it is logical that this knowledge could be growing within companies. But knowledge is extremely low in some of the most significant research areas to make UAM a reality in the right way. These include environmental studies, business economics, geography, public administration, energy, operations research, sociology and urban studies (in red).

No doubt that research in UAM has radically taken off in past 3 years, and the stats explain that technology is still immature. But with companies of aviation and transport industry claiming to emerge with technologies and on-going talks of implementing UAM in major cities around the world within the next few years, it is crucial that we investigate all areas to enable us to build supporting infrastructures, energy solutions, planning cityscapes, address possible sustainability and regulatory issues right away. Research patterns are usually a reflection of real world scenarios. So, irrespective of sectors we need enough knowledge for not just boisterous talks and impulses, but for suffcient preparedness and planning grounded in reality for implementation of disruptive transportation. At IBG, we think it is already time for this and are urging salient research in all vital research areas to build and implement UAM constructively.

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Aishwarya Raghunatha
PhD student and Project Engineer