Modeling and Evaluating Multimodal Urban Air Mobility

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Traffic congestion has been one of the leading issues around the world. The emerging concept of urban air mobility (UAM) is expected to provide a new solution by making use of the three-dimensional airspace to transport passengers and goods in urban areas. UAM application is based on a new type of electric aircraft that is enabled to take off and land vertically (eVTOL) and embedded with advanced autonomous and distributed propulsion technology. Compared to traditional aircraft like helicopters, eVTOL will provide safer, more efficient, and quieter air transportation service in urban areas. One of the greatest identified challenges for UAM application is to build well-distributed infrastructure to support eVTOL aircraft operations, specifically vertiports (or sky ports), where eVTOL aircrafts takeoff and land, onboard or disembark passengers, and get charged. Vertiport locations should be carefully selected with consideration of its connection with the existing multimodal transportation system, impact on potential UAM demand, and system performance. In this project, researchers developed an integrated mathematical model to design an on-demand UAM operation network and estimated the diverted demand from ground transportation to UAM. Specifically, they solved the problem of vertiport optimal location and travelers’ mode choice simultaneously. The choice of using UAM takes selection of access and egress modes into the generalized travel cost formula and compares that with the cost of using pure ground transportation. The results of this integrated model include the optimal locations of the vertiports, the diverted demand that UAM will attract from ground transportation, allocation of users to each vertiport, and access and egress modes of users reaching and leaving vertiports. Tampa Bay was used as the case study and sensitivity analysis was applied to understand the impacts of different parameters on the model results. They have tested the number of vertiports, pricing schemes, and the compounding effect of both. From the sensitivity analysis, we can see that for the Tampa Bay region, there is an upper limit on how many vertiports need to be constructed for on-demand UAM. It also provides insights for operators to determine pricing schemes while introducing the service.

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U.S. Department of Transportation 69A3551747119

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