Mayor Eric Garcetti Wednesday announced a plan to bring public transportation to the skies of Los Angles by 2023 with the Urban Air Mobility Plan.
According to Garcetti, this would be a “first-in-the-nation initiative” to make Los Angeles a leader in public air traffic.
“Los Angeles is where we turn today’s ideas into tomorrow’s reality, a place where a barrier-breaking concept like urban air mobility can truly get off the ground,” Garcetti said. “The Urban Air Mobility Partnership will make our city a force for cleaner skies, safer transportation, expanded prosperity and stunning innovation, and provide a template for how other local governments can take this new technology to even greater heights.”
The plan is a public-private partnership between the mayor’s office, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and Urban Movement Labs to educate and engage residents in new transportation technology, Garcetti stated.
“Now more than ever, with so many suffering the impacts of a devastating pandemic, Los Angeles needs a resilient transportation network that can adapt to the needs of its communities with the flip of a switch,” LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds said. “As we prepare to include Urban Air Mobility as a viable option for moving goods and people across our city, it is critical that we hear from stakeholders and design a system that works for all Angelenos.”
UML and Los Angeles will create a “vertiport,” a new transportation network where people can fly on an urban air mobility aircraft.
An example of public urban air traffic can be found at www.airbus.com/innovation/zero-emission/urban-air-mobility.html, which shows large, drone-like vehicles flying people through London, though it’s not clear if the aircraft Los Angeles is trying to debut would look like that example.
The Federal Aviation Administration is already looking at ways to accommodate urban air traffic, according to the agency’s website.
“Looking toward the future, the FAA is working to identify infrastructure design needs for these aircraft,” the website stated. “FAA expects to develop a new vertiport standard in the coming years.”
The mayor’s office said the aircraft to be introduced are of low-noise and electric-powered, and the strategy rolled out Wednesday is meant to help Los Angeles map out challenges identified by the public on airspace and property rights and implement solutions to those issues.
“Urban Movement Labs is delighted to partner with the mayor’s office, LADOT, and all Angelenos to make urban air mobility work for our city,” said Lilly Shoup, the interim executive director of Urban Movement Labs. “This model of public-private-community partnership is foundational to UML’s mission and will serve as an example for cities around the world on how to co-design new parts of cities’ transportation networks.”
The one-year partnership to develop the plan will create a policy toolkit that can be utilized and deployed by cities, counties and tribal governments across the country, Garcetti said.
With financial support from the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group, UML will work with Estolano Advisors to hire an urban air mobility fellow, who will be charged with advancing a comprehensive public engagement strategy around urban air mobility, how it will strengthen the local economy, when vehicles will take flight and how it will affect or improve Angelenos’ daily lives.
For more information on the fellowship and how to apply, visit urbanmovementlabs.com/careers.
The announcement of the Urban Air Mobility Partnership follows the publication of the “Principles of the Urban Sky,” a collaboration between Garcetti’s office, the World Economic Forum and a group of 50 industry, not-for-profit, academic and public-sector representatives.
The principles establish a joint commitment to safe, low-noise and sustainable urban air mobility operations that prioritize equity of access, connections to transit, purpose-driven data sharing and workforce development, the mayor’s office stated.
Additionally, Garcetti’s office said that since 2019, UML has worked with Los Angeles World Airports to modernize its LAX FlyAway shuttle service; launched two pilot projects on sustainable, last-mile delivery services; and most recently, announced the first Transportation Technology Innovation Zone in the West San Fernando Valley, where companies can apply to test their transportation solutions for the community’s mobility challenges.
With support from UML, Kiwibot, a delivery company, is currently testing autonomous robots in the Warner Center, with the potential for contactless delivery, the mayor’s office stated. More information on Kiwibot and their pilot program, visit kiwibot.com.