Science Fiction Realized: “The Urban Air Mobility System”.
And Miami-Dade may become one of a few pioneering cities in the new age of personal transportation. In fact, the County is already making plans.
It started on Tuesday, November 17, 2021, when Miami-Dade Commissioners directed Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s administration to create a working group focused on developing an implementation plan for an “Urban Air Mobility System.” The report is due in 120 days — and the plan is to accommodate in-city emergency services, traffic monitoring and management, public safety, cargo — and individual passenger travel and public transport within the county’s boundaries.
An Urban Air Mobility System, or UAM, could arrive in Miami by 2026, according to Commissioner Oliver Gilbert III who called for the plan to be developed.
“We know the technology is moving along pretty quickly now, and they’re going to be coming out. They’re testing vehicles now to move people and cargo,” Gilbert told Florida Politics. “What happens so many times in communities is, we find ourselves trying to react to technology after it’s already created when, in truth, we should prepare for it and be on the front end of it.”
The idea of flying cars, taxis, buses and freight vehicles isn’t new. We saw them on “The Jetsons” and pretty much every superhero comic book ever published. Carlos Giménez When he was still Miami-Dade Mayor, U.S. Rep. met with Lilium GmbH, a German engineering startup whose five-seat, flying electric taxi capable of vertical takeoffs and landings is one of hundreds of models that could revolutionize how people traverse cities and suburbs.
“You don’t need runways; you just need space for takeoffs and landings,” Giménez said of the Lilium Jet in 2018. “Once you start traveling in three dimensions, a lot of problems go away.”
Uber Jumps In.
Ride-share Uber is pouring millions into a flying car project. Amazon’s drone delivery system, Prime Air, was set to take off by 2018 but remains in development. Walgreens in partnership with Alphabet (the parent company of Google) launched a drone delivery service called Wing last month.
“The stage is being set for UAMs — from Miami to Los Angeles to London to Japan and many places in between — they’re all preparing. Miami-Dade will be ready”, Gilbert said.
“Let’s look at it,” he said. “Let’s talk to private industry and try to make it work for Miami-Dade County. We see Palm Beach preparing for it. I want Miami-Dade County to be the most prepared region for it.”
The working group has one year to do its work and deliver its plan, per the resolution. Sources say that the group is working on securing representation from the transportation safety industry, helicopter operators, helicopter flight booking or urban air mobility platforms, public or private utility companies, and the Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) and Aviation, Seaport, and Transportation and Public Works departments.
Another task is to pinpoint where UAM public infrastructure would best go and provide a timeline for the infrastructure’s development, construction and operation, to prepare for a potential 2026 launch of services.
Before a single UAM hits the skyways, plans must me made for the required UAM infrastructure, including Initiatives for connectivity, developing promotional strategies to encourage participation and partnership on UAM-related projects with Florida-based transportation companies, and more. The group will also focus on identifying legal, regulatory or operational impediments, and outlining necessary safety protocols, noise mitigation requirements or community standards. That’s a lot of work in just five short years if the predictions are correct.
“People ask for meetings, and they ask questions. Where will the vehicles be able to take off from? Questions we didn’t have answers for,” he said. “The county, with all its brainpower, should be looking at this and at least develop the framework for answering these questions. We can’t just have people willy-nilly creating their own system. We need to develop the answers.”