World’s first VERTIPORT opens in Coventry: Air-One will serve as a hub for drones and flying taxis


From Harry Potter to The Jetsons, flying cars have been staple features of science fiction blockbusters for years.

And with the futuristic vehicles rapidly getting closer to becoming a reality, the world’s first vertiport has opened this week.

The Air-One vertiport is located in Coventry and will be a hub for drones and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircrafts, including flying cars and taxis.

The site will serve as a blueprint for more than 200 vertiports planned worldwide over the next five years, according to Urban-Air Port, the UK-based developer of Air-One.

‘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,’ said Ricky Sandhu, Founder and Executive Chairman of Urban-Air Port.

‘Cars have roads. Trains have rails. Planes have airports. Now, eVTOLs have an Urban-Air Port.’

The Air-One vertiport is located in Coventry and will serve as a hub for drones and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircrafts, including flying cars and taxis

The site will serve as a blueprint for more than 200 vertiports planned worldwide over the next five years, according to Urban-Air Port, the UK-based developer of Air-One. Pictured: a Supernal flying taxi at the site

The site will serve as a blueprint for more than 200 vertiports planned worldwide over the next five years, according to Urban-Air Port, the UK-based developer of Air-One. Pictured: a Supernal flying taxi at the site

Where will the next vertiports be? 

The site in Coventry was chosen due to its location in the heart of the UK, with most parts of the country within four hours reach.

However, Urban-Air Port has ambitious plans for more than 200 vertiports worldwide by 2027.

Sites are already planned in the West Midlands and London, as well as in Los Angeles, Australia, South Korea, France, Germany, Scandinavia and South East Asia.

Air-One was first announced back in October but has officially opened today.

‘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,’ Mr Sandhu said.

‘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.’

The first site was chosen in Coventry due to its location in the heart of the UK, with most parts of the country within four hours reach.

However, Urban-Air Port has ambitious plans for more than 200 vertiports worldwide by 2027.

Sites are already planned in the West Midlands and London, as well as in Los Angeles, Australia, South Korea, France, Germany, Scandinavia and South East Asia.

Air-One will be used to host demonstrator flights, including those run by the West Midlands Police and Skyfarer.

The site in Coventry was chosen due to its location in the heart of the UK, with most parts of the country within four hours distance

The site in Coventry was chosen due to its location in the heart of the UK, with most parts of the country within four hours distance

Air-One will be used to host demonstrator flights, including those run by the West Midlands Police (pictured) and Skyfarer. And on the opening day, a huge bed-sized drone developed by Malloy Aeronautics will be flown from the hub – marking the first time a drone of this size has flown in an urban environment.

Air-One will be used to host demonstrator flights, including those run by the West Midlands Police (pictured) and Skyfarer. And on the opening day, a huge bed-sized drone developed by Malloy Aeronautics will be flown from the hub – marking the first time a drone of this size has flown in an urban environment.

And on the opening day, a huge bed-sized drone developed by Malloy Aeronautics will be flown from the hub – marking the first time a drone of this size has flown in an urban environment.

Meanwhile, the Air-One site in Coventry will also have charging points for electric vehicles.

In the future, Urban-Air Port says its vertiports will serve four key markets – flying taxis, autonomous delivery drones, disaster emergency management, and defence operations and logistics.

Robert Courts, Minister for Aviation, said: ‘British innovation has a rich history of transforming global transportation, from the creation of the railroads in the 1800s, to the growth of great British brands such as Jaguar, Triumph and Rover in the 1950s.

‘The opening of Air-One, backed by Government funding, will revolutionise the way people and goods travel across the nation. 

In the future, Urban-Air Port says its vertiports will serve four key markets – flying taxis, autonomous delivery drones, disaster emergency management, and defence operations and logistics

In the future, Urban-Air Port says its vertiports will serve four key markets – flying taxis, autonomous delivery drones, disaster emergency management, and defence operations and logistics

Sites are already planned in the West Midlands and London, as well as in Los Angeles, Australia, South Korea, France, Germany, Scandinavia and South East Asia

Sites are already planned in the West Midlands and London, as well as in Los Angeles, Australia, South Korea, France, Germany, Scandinavia and South East Asia

‘This step forward puts Britain at the vanguard of clean transport, bringing investment and high-skilled, green job opportunities to the nation, while levelling up opportunity in the Midlands.’ 

The opening of the vertiport comes shortly after plans were submitted to the UK government for a network of ‘drone superhighways’ across the Midlands and the Southeast.

A consortium led by software provider Altitude Angel has submitted plans for a 165-mile-long superhighway network dubbed Project Skyway, connecting airspace above cities including Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Coventry, and Rugby.

If approved, the network could potentially then be extended to Southampton on the south coast and Ipswich on the east coast.

The group hopes the superhighway will ‘unlock the huge potential offered by unmanned aerial vehicles,’ with a decision from the government on whether to green light the project expected in the coming weeks.

WHAT TYPE OF FLYING TAXIS COULD WE EXPECT TO SEE IN THE FUTURE?

Advances in electric motors, battery technology and autonomous software has triggered an explosion in the field of electric air taxis.

Larry Page, CEO of Google parent company Alphabet, has poured millions into aviation start-ups Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk, which are both striving to create all-electric flying cabs.

Kitty Hawk is believed to be developing a flying car and has already filed more than a dozen different aircraft registrations with the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA.

Page, who co-founded Google with Sergey Brin back in 1998, has personally invested $100 million (£70 million) into the two companies, which have yet to publicly acknowledge or demonstrate their technology.

AirSpaceX unveiled its latest prototype, Mobi-One, at the North American International Auto Show in early 2018. Like its closest rivals, the electric aircraft is designed to carry two to four passengers and is capable of vertical take-off and landing

AirSpaceX unveiled its latest prototype, Mobi-One, at the North American International Auto Show in early 2018. Like its closest rivals, the electric aircraft is designed to carry two to four passengers and is capable of vertical take-off and landing

Airbus is also hard at work on an all-electric, vertical-take-off-and-landing craft, with its latest Project Vahana prototype, branded Alpha One, successfully completing its maiden test flight in February 2018.

The self-piloted helicopter reached a height of 16 feet (five metres) before successfully returning to the ground. In total, the test flight lasted 53 seconds.

Airbus previously shared a well-produced concept video, showcasing its vision for Project Vahana.

The footage reveals a sleek self-flying aircraft that seats one passenger under a canopy that retracts in similar way to a motorcycle helmet visor.

Airbus Project Vahana prototype, branded Alpha One, successfully completed its maiden test flight in February 2018. The self-piloted helicopter reached a height of 16 feet (five metres) before successfully returning to the ground. In total, the test flight lasted 53 seconds

Airbus Project Vahana prototype, branded Alpha One, successfully completed its maiden test flight in February 2018. The self-piloted helicopter reached a height of 16 feet (five metres) before successfully returning to the ground. In total, the test flight lasted 53 seconds

AirSpaceX is another company with ambitions to take commuters to the skies.

The Detroit-based start-up has promised to deploy 2,500 aircrafts in the 50 largest cities in the United States by 2026.

AirSpaceX unveiled its latest prototype, Mobi-One, at the North American International Auto Show in early 2018.

Like its closest rivals, the electric aircraft is designed to carry two to four passengers and is capable of vertical take-off and landing.

AirSpaceX has even included broadband connectivity for high speed internet access so you can check your Facebook News Feed as you fly to work.

Aside from passenger and cargo services, AirSpaceX says the craft can also be used for medical and casualty evacuation, as well as tactical Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR).

Even Uber is working on making its ride-hailing service airborne.

Dubbed Uber Elevate, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tentatively discussed the company’s plans during a technology conference in January 2018.

‘I think it’s going to happen within the next 10 years,’ he said.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk