Consider the prevailing congestion problems with ground-based transportation and the anticipated growth of traffic in the coming decades. A major challenge is to find solutions that combine the best of ground-based and air-based transportation. The optimal solution would consist in creating a personal air transport system (PATS) that can overcome the problems associated with all of our current methods of transportation.
MYCOPTER proposes an integrated approach to enable the first viable PATS based on Personal Aerial Vehicles (PAVs) envisioned for travelling between homes and working places, and for flying at low altitude in urban environments. Such PAVs should be fully or partially autonomous without requiring ground-based air traffic control. Furthermore, they should operate outside controlled airspace while current air traffic remains unchanged, and should later easily be integrated into the next generation of controlled airspace.
MYCOPTER aims to pave the way for PAVs to be used by the general public within the context of such a transport system.
The consortium consists of experts on socio-technological evaluation to assess the impact of the envisioned PATS on society, and of partners that can make the technology advancements necessary for a viable PATS. To this end, test models of handling dynamics for potential PAVs will be designed and implemented on unmanned aerial vehicles, motion simulators, and a manned helicopter.
In addition, an investigation into the human capability of flying a PAV will be conducted, resulting in a user-centred design of a suitable human-machine interface (HMI). Furthermore, the project will introduce new automation technologies for obstacle avoidance, path planning and formation flying, which also have excellent potential for other aerospace applications. This project is a unique integration of social investigations and technological advancements that are necessary to move public transportation into the third dimension.
Foundation laid for tomorrow's mobility via a personal aerial transportation system
A transportation system based on personal aerial vehicles (PAVs) may slowly but surely be moving from the realm of science fiction to reality. An EU initiative laid the basis for this once far-fetched scenario.
This vision is now closer to being realised than ever before, thanks to the EU-funded project http://www.mycopter.eu/ (MYCOPTER) (Enabling technologies for personal air transport systems). A personal aerial transportation system (PATS) could alleviate increasing traffic congestion problems on the ground. But before such a system can deliver, various technological and societal challenges need to be resolved.
Automation technologies are key to the success of a PATS. The developed technologies were demonstrated on various test facilities. Advances in automation technologies were implemented and tested in unmanned aerial vehicles, and prototypes for human-machine interface and training scenarios were investigated on fixed-base simulators.
Autonomous flight in urban environments where accurate global positioning system-based localisation cannot be guaranteed, collision-free autonomous navigation and automatic landing place selection are prime examples of challenges that project partners tackled.
The MYCOPTER team developed requirements for the handling qualities of future PAVs and a training syllabus for potential pilots that can be completed in about five hours. New flight control devices suitable for pilots with limited flight experience were integrated into various simulators and tested in flight scenarios.
To better understand the impact of a PATS on society, project members mapped its socioeconomic situation. This helped to identify the challenges and issues of a PATS and its integration into Europe's current transportation system. The potential opportunities, obstacles and challenges of PAVs were also identified via extensive literature research and expert interviews. In addition, three focus group interviews with laypersons provided insight into the perspectives and expectations of potential users and/or citizens with regards to PATS development.
MYCOPTER demonstrated that a PATS can become reality provided that appropriate technological advancements take place and socio-technological considerations are taken into account. It might not be long before a PATS alleviates traffic congestion, saves time and fuel, and improves the quality of life for EU citizens.