From flying taxis whizzing passengers across cities to autonomous drones zooming medical supplies to patients, the urban air mobility sector is full of promise.
According to Morgan Stanley, that potential market could be worth $1tn by 2040. Across Europe, urban air mobility startups have been scooping up investor cash in the hope of capitalising on this market opportunity once it takes off.
With that, valuations have been rising. Dealroom estimates the value of European urban air mobility startups currently stands at $7.9bn.
In the UK, there has been growing momentum for urban air mobility, or UAM, from drone delivery trials to industry partnerships. Earlier this month, the government unveiled £273m in funding for the UK’s aerospace sector, with plans including a drone “super highway”.
Yet despite recent advances, challenges remain for the sector in terms of technology, infrastructure and regulation.
Here’s list of 5 British urban air mobility startups looking to overcome these hurdles and take to the skies.
Electric vertical take off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles need places to take off and land. Skyports is designing and building landing infrastructure for what it calls vertiports. Its drones are also used by businesses in sectors such as surveillance and maritime transport for different use cases.
In March the company raised $23m (£18.6m) in the first close of its Series B. Previously it has worked with what3words and the Royal Mail on the UK’s first drone package delivery.
Skyports recently announced it would begin trialling the delivery of school meals to a Scottish primary school, and is exploring the viability of a flying taxi network in Malaysia.
Flylogix’s unmanned drones can measure offshore methane emissions, conduct environmental assessments for wind, emergency response and carry out remote deliveries.
Flylogix’s customers include BP, Shell, energy company TAQA, National Grid and Skybus.
In March, Flylogix was given a £3m equity investment from BP Ventures as part of its funding round.
Drone air mail and parcel company Windracers wants to cut the times for mail, medical and aid deliveries.
Windracer’s autonomous drones can carry up to 100kg across 1000km using autopilot.
The startup has recently been working with the Royal Mail through a partnership to create over 50 new postal drone delivery routes, which will support 200 drones.
Last year Windracers delivered parcels to the Scilly Isles from Cornwall, in a trial with the Royal Mail.
Healthcare drone operator Apian is focusing on the UK’s medical logistics. According to the company, the NHS is responsible for 5% of all road traffic in England.
Through its fixed-wing hybrid VTOL, it aims to reduce time, money and road traffic. The VTOLs have a maximum payload of 25kg, wingspans up to 5m and travel at 100mph.
Apian was co-founded by Hammad Jeilani, Christopher Law and Alexander Trewby.
It recently made the headlines by partnering with the NHS to trial the delivery of chemotherapy medication to the Isle of Wight.
Autonomous Flight wants its eVTOLs to transport people across cities for private and commercial use.
The startup says its aerial taxis can transport users from Charing Cross to Heathrow in 12 minutes.
Autonomous Flight’s Y6S Plus can carry six people, which its says is to strike a balance between unit economics and keeping the aircraft light enough to take to the skies. Its top speed is 200km per hour.
In January the startup launched £75m Series C funding round, which follows a £5m Series A and a £19m Series B, both of which took place last year.