Over two hundred companies around the world are developing transformative vertical flight aircraft for urban/advanced air mobility (UAM/AAM), using electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL, or some prefer autonomous-aVTOL or hybrid-hVTOL) technologies. These aircraft may incorporate non-traditional electric or hybrid propulsion for manned or unmanned operation, with an onboard pilot, remote pilot, or autonomous control.

These vehicles are not drones, helicopters, airplanes, cars, trucks, motorcycles, SUVs, and some would adamantly say they are not flying cars. However, they might support similar missions. Orbs could enable distributed logistics and sustainment, with particular utility in medical evacuation, firefighting, civil and military disaster relief, search and rescue, and humanitarian relief operations.

To help develop this industry, the Air Force recently launched Agility Prime, a non-traditional program seeking to accelerate the commercial market for advanced air mobility vehicles (i.e., “flying cars”). Leveraging unique testing resources and revenue generating government use cases for distributed logistics and disaster response, the government plans to mitigate current commercial market and regulatory risks. Agility Prime also aims to bring together industry, investor, and government communities to establish safety and security standards while accelerating commercialization of this revolutionary technology. The Innovative Capabilities Opening, below, establishes a rapid contracting mechanism beginning in 2020 with a “Race to Certification” series to drive government procurement of operational capability by 2023.

At a recent AgilityPrime event, Dr. Tulinda Larsen, Executive Director of UAMMI, participated in a panel discussion to explore potential commercial products being developed in the emerging eVTOL/UAM market for potential disaster response, humanitarian aid, and logistics missions.