- As companies explore the potential to use flying cars or other small air-borne vehicles as a solution to urban congestion, a new poll finds that 44% of the public is in favor of Urban Air Mobility (UAM). The survey was released by Airbus UTM, a group working on traffic management policies for airspace.
- The survey — which polled 1,540 people in four locations around the world — found that 41% of people believe the aircraft would be safe or very safe. When asked their top concerns about UAM, safety was the top answer (55%), followed by the type and volume of sound generated.
- Mexico City was the most enthusiastic area, with 67% of respondents there saying they were likely or very likely to use UAM. Los Angeles (46%) was second, followed by Switzerland (32%) and New Zealand (27%).
The flying car future may seem far off, but backers are increasingly touting the potential of aircraft to move people around cities, with Uber and Bell Helicopter planning to test them in Dallas and Los Angeles as early as next year. At January’s CES trade show, Bell even put one of its vehicles on display, which is approximately the size of a small helicopter with multiple rotors that can reduce noise.
Still, experts have noted that safety and logistics concerns will mean a slow rollout that will require "baby steps," according to Jeff Warra, senior automotive technology specialist with Spirent Communications. Airbus UTM has been working on the regulatory issues that could come up with a more crowded and diverse airspace, another significant barrier to deployment.
The Airbus UTM poll shows that the public share some of those concerns and may be reticent to immediately jump on board. Interest was highest among younger respondents, with 55% of those between the ages of 25-34 giving the most positive initial reaction. Of those most likely to embrace UAM, the average commute time was 26 minutes (compared to 19 minutes among the least likely respondents), signaling that time spent on congested streets could open users’ minds.