Urban Air Mobility (UAM)

A special issue of Drones (ISSN 2504-446X). This special issue belongs to the section "Innovative Urban Mobility".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2023) | Viewed by 52787

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Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Industrial Systems Engineering and Product Design, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Interests: big data; smart cities; data quality; GPS; city logistics
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Guest Editor
Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering, University of Pisa, 56126 Pisa, Italy
Interests: transport planning; traffic engineering; bike systems; pedestrian behavior
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Guest Editor
Department of Information Engineering, University of Florence, Via Santa Marta 3, 50139 Firenze, Italy
Interests: radar imaging; synthetic aperture radar; electromagnetics; RF engineering; antennas and propagation; remote sensing; telecommunications engineering; radar signal processing; SAR interferometry; electrical & electronics engineering
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Guest Editor
SEAL Aeronautica, Camelies 9, 2-2 08700 Igualada, Barcelona, Spain
Interests: Urban Air Mobility (UAM); smart cities;
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Guest Editor
Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering, University of Pisa, 56126 Pisa, Italy
Interests: logistics; sustainable; spatial analysis; urban planning
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Guest Editor
Department of Industrial Systems Engineering and Product Design, Ghent University, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Interests: intelligent systems; smart cities; industry 4.0; data quality; decision support
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The beginning of the 2020s finds connected multimodality at the forefront of urban mobility transformation. Cities grow larger (It is expected that Europe's population in urban areas will increase from today's 74% to about 83.7% in 2050[1]) and increasingly face problems caused by transport and traffic (Congestion costs nearly 2% of the EU’s GDP annually, while 85% of the EU’s urban population is exposed to fine particulate matter PM2.5 at levels deemed harmful to health [2]). To face this challenge, cities increasingly strive to implement SUMPs (Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans) to increase the quality of life in their areas and encourage economic growth. Meanwhile, Urban Air Mobility (UAM) offers a promising opportunity to mitigate road (surface) congestion by integrating an additional modality/dimension in the urban mobility landscape. Nonetheless, on the path to fully urban operations of capable automated autonomous aircrafts and integrated UAM services, still plenty of questions remain open. This Special Issue aims to provide a platform for bringing together research advances made over the recent years in the domain of urban air mobility, including aspects such as:

  • Advanced air mobility (AAM);
  • UAM operations planning and integration;
  • UAM services planning and integrations;
  • Path planning;UAV sensing (radar, lidar, camera, etc.);
  • Digital twin for UAM;
  • Virtual certification;
  • Flight dynamics;
  • Noise and emissions modelling;
  • Emergency landing solutions;
  • Autonomous flight control;
  • UAM decision making algorithms;
  • Emergency logistics.

[1] United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2018). World Urbanization Prospects: Ed. 2018.

[2] European Environment Agency, Air quality in Europe report (2016), Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

Prof. Dr. Ivana Semanjski
Dr. Antonio Pratelli
Dr. Massimiliano Pieraccini
Dr. Silvio Semanjski
Dr. Massimiliano Petri
Prof. Dr. Sidharta Gautama
Guest Editors

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • drones
  • urban air mobility (UAM)
  • advanced air mobility (AAM)
  • operations planning
  • radar
  • lidar
  • camera
  • digital twin
  • virtual certification
  • flight dynamics
  • noise
  • emissions
  • emergency landing
  • autonomous flight control
  • decision making
  • emergency logistics

Related Special Issue

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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25 pages, 3883 KiB  
Article
Toward Smart Air Mobility: Control System Design and Experimental Validation for an Unmanned Light Helicopter
by Emanuele Luigi de Angelis, Fabrizio Giulietti, Gianluca Rossetti, Matteo Turci and Chiara Albertazzi
Drones 2023, 7(5), 288; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050288 - 25 Apr 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1638
Abstract
Light helicopters are used for a variety of applications, attracting users from private and public market segments because of their agility and convenient storage capabilities. However, most light helicopters on the market today are designed and manufactured with technologies dating back to the [...] Read more.
Light helicopters are used for a variety of applications, attracting users from private and public market segments because of their agility and convenient storage capabilities. However, most light helicopters on the market today are designed and manufactured with technologies dating back to the 1980s, with safety issues to be addressed by advanced design methods, more powerful engines, and innovative solutions. In this regard, the DISRUPT (Development of an innovative and safe ultralight, two-seater turbine helicopter) project, led by Curti Aerospace Division (Italy) and co-funded by the EU H2020 program, is a state-of-the-art concept for a novel ultralight helicopter equipped with a ballistic parachute. In order to validate the first parachute ejection in a safe scenario, a dronization process was selected as a viable solution to be performed in collaboration with the University of Bologna. In the present paper, the steps followed to transform the helicopter into an unmanned vehicle are detailed according to the model-based design approach, with particular focus on mathematical modeling, control system design, and experimental validation. Obtained results demonstrate the feasibility of using a civil helicopter first as a remotely-piloted vehicle and then as a highly-automated personal transportation system in the framework of smart and sustainable air mobility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Air Mobility (UAM))
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22 pages, 8198 KiB  
Article
Software Aging Effects on Kubernetes in Container Orchestration Systems for Digital Twin Cloud Infrastructures of Urban Air Mobility
by Jackson Costa, Rubens Matos, Jean Araujo, Jueying Li, Eunmi Choi, Tuan Anh Nguyen, Jae-Woo Lee and Dugki Min
Drones 2023, 7(1), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7010035 - 03 Jan 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2975
Abstract
It is necessary to develop a vehicle digital twin (DT) for urban air mobility (UAM) that uses an accurate, physics-based emulator to model the statics and dynamics of a vehicle. This is because the use of digital twins in the operation and control [...] Read more.
It is necessary to develop a vehicle digital twin (DT) for urban air mobility (UAM) that uses an accurate, physics-based emulator to model the statics and dynamics of a vehicle. This is because the use of digital twins in the operation and control of UAM vehicles is essential for the UAM operational digital twin infrastructure (UAM-ODT). There are several issues that need to be addressed in this process: (i) the lack of digital twin engines for the digitalization (twinization) of the dynamics and control of UAM vehicles at the core of UAM-ODT systems; (ii) the lack of back-end system engineering in the development of UAM vehicle DTs; and (iii) the lack of fault-tolerant mechanisms for the DT cloud back-end system to run uninterrupted operations 24/7. On the other hand, software aging and rejuvenation are becoming increasingly important in a variety of computing scenarios as the demand for reliable and available services increases. With the increasing use of containerized systems, there is also a need for an orchestrator to support easy management and reduce operational costs. In this paper, an operational digital twin (ODT) of a typical urban air mobility (UAM) infrastructure is developed on a private cloud system based on Kubernetes using a proposed cloud-in-the-loop simulation approach. To ensure the ODT can provide uninterrupted operational control and services in UAM around the clock, we propose a methodology for investigating software aging in Kubernetes-based containerized clouds. We evaluate the behavior of Kubernetes software using the Nginx and K3S tools while they manage pods in an accelerated lifetime experiment. We continuously execute operations for creating and terminating pods, allowing us to observe the utilization of computing resources (e.g., CPU, memory, and I/O), the performance of the Nginx and K3S environments, and the response time of an application hosted in those environments. In some conditions and for specific metrics, such as virtual memory usage, we observed the effects of software aging, including a memory leak that is not fully cleared when the cluster is stopped. These issues could lead to system performance degradation and eventually compromise the reliability and availability of the system when it crashes due to memory space exhaustion or full utilization of swap space on the hard disk. This study helps with the deployment and maintenance of virtualized environments from the standpoint of system dependability in digital twin computing infrastructures where a large number of services are running under strict continuity requirements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Air Mobility (UAM))
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25 pages, 10761 KiB  
Article
Gusts Encountered by Flying Vehicles in Proximity to Buildings
by Abdulghani Mohamed, Matthew Marino, Simon Watkins, Justin Jaworski and Anya Jones
Drones 2023, 7(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7010022 - 28 Dec 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 7318 | Correction
Abstract
There is a growing desire to operate Uncrewed Air Vehicles (UAVs) in urban environments for parcel delivery, and passenger-carrying air taxis for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). The turbulent flows and gusts around buildings and other urban infrastructure can affect the steadiness and stability [...] Read more.
There is a growing desire to operate Uncrewed Air Vehicles (UAVs) in urban environments for parcel delivery, and passenger-carrying air taxis for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). The turbulent flows and gusts around buildings and other urban infrastructure can affect the steadiness and stability of such air vehicles by generating a highly transient relative flow field. Our aim is to review existing gust models, then consider gust encounters in the vicinity of buildings as experienced by flight trajectories over the roof of a nominally cuboid building in a suburban atmospheric boundary layer. Simplified models of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft are used to illustrate the changes in lift and thrust experienced by flight around the building. The analysis showed that fixed-wing aircraft experienced a substantial increase in angle of attack over a relatively short period of time (<1 s) as they fly through the shear layer at a representative forward velocity, which can be well above typical stall angles. Due to the slow flight speeds required for landing and take-off, significant control authority of rotor systems is required to ensure safe operation due to the high disturbance effects caused by localized gusts from buildings and protruding structures. Currently there appears to be negligible certification or regulation for AAM systems to ensure safe operations when traversing building flow fields under windy conditions and it is hoped that the insights provided in this paper will assist with future certification and regulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Air Mobility (UAM))
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18 pages, 5985 KiB  
Article
Strategic and Tactical Path Planning for Urban Air Mobility: Overview and Application to Real-World Use Cases
by Flavia Causa, Armando Franzone and Giancarmine Fasano
Drones 2023, 7(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7010011 - 24 Dec 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3448
Abstract
Urban air mobility requires safe and efficient airspace management, as well as effective path planning and decision-making capabilities to enable access to the urban airspace, which is predicted to be very densely populated. This paper tackles the problem of strategic and tactical path [...] Read more.
Urban air mobility requires safe and efficient airspace management, as well as effective path planning and decision-making capabilities to enable access to the urban airspace, which is predicted to be very densely populated. This paper tackles the problem of strategic and tactical path planning by presenting a framework specifically designed for accounting for several constraints and issues of the urban environment. Multi-objective and multi-constraint planner algorithms are developed to this aim, along with an innovative method for information simplification and manipulation. Navigation-aware and optimized trajectories were retrieved from the strategic approach. Tactical path planning was developed using three approaches that react differently to unpredicted conditions. The entire strategic–tactical pipeline was tested in two real-world use cases, representing common missions in urban environments, such as medical delivery and short-range air taxi. The results demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed methodology in generating the strategic path and show the different outcomes of the proposed tactical approaches, thus highlighting their advantages and drawbacks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Air Mobility (UAM))
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17 pages, 978 KiB  
Article
LightMAN: A Lightweight Microchained Fabric for Assurance- and Resilience-Oriented Urban Air Mobility Networks
by Ronghua Xu, Sixiao Wei, Yu Chen, Genshe Chen and Khanh Pham
Drones 2022, 6(12), 421; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6120421 - 16 Dec 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1776
Abstract
Rapid advancements in the fifth generation (5G) communication technology and mobile edge computing (MEC) paradigm have led to the proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in urban air mobility (UAM) networks, which provide intelligent services for diversified smart city scenarios. Meanwhile, the widely [...] Read more.
Rapid advancements in the fifth generation (5G) communication technology and mobile edge computing (MEC) paradigm have led to the proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in urban air mobility (UAM) networks, which provide intelligent services for diversified smart city scenarios. Meanwhile, the widely deployed Internet of drones (IoD) in smart cities has also brought up new concerns regarding performance, security, and privacy. The centralized framework adopted by conventional UAM networks is not adequate to handle high mobility and dynamicity. Moreover, it is necessary to ensure device authentication, data integrity, and privacy preservation in UAM networks. Thanks to its characteristics of decentralization, traceability, and unalterability, blockchain is recognized as a promising technology to enhance security and privacy for UAM networks. In this paper, we introduce LightMAN, a lightweight microchained fabric for data assurance and resilience-oriented UAM networks. LightMAN is tailored for small-scale permissioned UAV networks, in which a microchain acts as a lightweight distributed ledger for security guarantees. Thus, participants are enabled to authenticate drones and verify the genuineness of data that are sent to/from drones without relying on a third-party agency. In addition, a hybrid on-chain and off-chain storage strategy is adopted that not only improves performance (e.g., latency and throughput) but also ensures privacy preservation for sensitive information in UAM networks. A proof-of-concept prototype is implemented and tested on a micro-air–vehicle link (MAVLink) simulator. The experimental evaluation validates the feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed LightMAN solution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Air Mobility (UAM))
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27 pages, 6957 KiB  
Article
Study of Urban Logistics Drone Path Planning Model Incorporating Service Benefit and Risk Cost
by Quan Shao, Jiaming Li, Ruoheng Li, Jiangao Zhang and Xiaobo Gao
Drones 2022, 6(12), 418; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6120418 - 15 Dec 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2195
Abstract
The application of drones provides a powerful solution for “the last-mile” logistics services, while the large-scale implementation of logistics drone services will threaten the safety of buildings, pedestrians, vehicles, and other elements in the urban environment. The balance of risk cost and service [...] Read more.
The application of drones provides a powerful solution for “the last-mile” logistics services, while the large-scale implementation of logistics drone services will threaten the safety of buildings, pedestrians, vehicles, and other elements in the urban environment. The balance of risk cost and service benefit is accordingly crucial to managing logistics drones. In this study, we proposed a cost-benefit assessment model for quantifying risk cost and service benefit in the urban environment. In addition, a global heuristic path search rule was developed to solve the path planning problem based on risk mitigation and customer service. The cost-benefit assessment model quantifies the risk cost from three environmental elements (buildings, pedestrians, and vehicles) threatened by drone operations based on the collision probability, and the service benefit based on the characteristics of logistics service customers. To explore the effectiveness of the model in this paper, we simulate and analyse the effects of different risk combinations, unknown risk zones, and risk-benefit preferences on the path planning results. The results show that compared with the traditional shortest-distance method, the drone path planning method proposed in this paper can accurately capture the distribution of risks and customers in the urban environment. It is highly reusable in ensuring service benefits while reducing risk costs and generating a cost-effective path for logistics drones. We also compare the algorithm in this paper with the A* algorithm and verify that our algorithm improves the solution quality in complex environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Air Mobility (UAM))
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16 pages, 11549 KiB  
Article
Fast Obstacle Detection System for UAS Based on Complementary Use of Radar and Stereoscopic Camera
by Luca Bigazzi, Lapo Miccinesi, Enrico Boni, Michele Basso, Tommaso Consumi and Massimiliano Pieraccini
Drones 2022, 6(11), 361; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6110361 - 18 Nov 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 4619
Abstract
Autonomous unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are having an increasing impact in the scientific community. One of the most challenging problems in this research area is the design of robust real-time obstacle detection and avoidance systems. In the automotive field, applications of obstacle detection [...] Read more.
Autonomous unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are having an increasing impact in the scientific community. One of the most challenging problems in this research area is the design of robust real-time obstacle detection and avoidance systems. In the automotive field, applications of obstacle detection systems combining radar and vision sensors are common and widely documented. However, these technologies are not currently employed in the UAS field due to the major complexity of the flight scenario, especially in urban environments. In this paper, a real-time obstacle-detection system based on the use of a 77 GHz radar and a stereoscopic camera is proposed for use in small UASs. The resulting system is capable of detecting obstacles in a broad spectrum of environmental conditions. In particular, the vision system guarantees a high resolution for short distances, while the radar has a lower resolution but can cover greater distances, being insensitive to poor lighting conditions. The developed hardware and software architecture and the related obstacle-detection algorithm are illustrated within the European project AURORA. Experimental results carried out employing a small UAS show the effectiveness of the obstacle detection system and of a simple avoidance strategy during several autonomous missions on a test site. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Air Mobility (UAM))
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55 pages, 14829 KiB  
Article
Urban Air Mobility: Systematic Review of Scientific Publications and Regulations for Vertiport Design and Operations
by Karolin Schweiger and Lukas Preis
Drones 2022, 6(7), 179; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6070179 - 19 Jul 2022
Cited by 34 | Viewed by 13412
Abstract
Novel electric aircraft designs coupled with intense efforts from academia, government and industry led to a paradigm shift in urban transportation by introducing UAM. While UAM promises to introduce a new mode of transport, it depends on ground infrastructure to operate safely and [...] Read more.
Novel electric aircraft designs coupled with intense efforts from academia, government and industry led to a paradigm shift in urban transportation by introducing UAM. While UAM promises to introduce a new mode of transport, it depends on ground infrastructure to operate safely and efficiently in a highly constrained urban environment. Due to its novelty, the research of UAM ground infrastructure is widely scattered. Therefore, this paper selects, categorizes and summarizes existing literature in a systematic fashion and strives to support the harmonization process of contributions made by industry, research and regulatory authorities. Through a document term matrix approach, we identified 49 Scopus-listed scientific publications (2016–2021) addressing the topic of UAM ground infrastructure with respect to airspace operation followed by design, location and network, throughput and capacity, ground operations, cost, safety, regulation, weather and lastly noise and security. Last listed topics from cost onwards appear to be substantially under-represented, but will be influencing current developments and challenges. This manuscript further presents regulatory considerations (Europe, U.S., international) and introduces additional noteworthy scientific publications and industry contributions. Initial uncertainties in naming UAM ground infrastructure seem to be overcome; vertiport is now being predominantly used when speaking about vertical take-off and landing UAM operations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Air Mobility (UAM))
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14 pages, 702 KiB  
Article
Systemic Performance Analysis on Zoning for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle-Based Service Delivery
by Casper Bak Pedersen, Kasper Rosenkrands, Inkyung Sung and Peter Nielsen
Drones 2022, 6(7), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6070157 - 26 Jun 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1929
Abstract
A zoning approach that divides an area of interest into multiple sub-areas can be a systemic and strategic solution to safely deploy a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for package delivery services. Following the zoning approach, a UAV can be assigned to [...] Read more.
A zoning approach that divides an area of interest into multiple sub-areas can be a systemic and strategic solution to safely deploy a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for package delivery services. Following the zoning approach, a UAV can be assigned to one of the sub-areas, taking sole ownership and responsibility of the sub-area. As a result, the need for collision avoidance between units and the complexity of relevant operational activities can be minimized, ensuring both safe and reliable execution of the tasks. Given that the zoning approach involves the demand-server allocation decision, the service quality to customers can also be improved by performing the zoning properly. To illuminate the benefits of the zoning approach to UAV operations from a systemic perspective, this study applies clustering techniques to derive zoning solutions under different scenarios and examines the performance of the solutions using a simulation model. The simulation results demonstrate that the zoning approach can improve the safety of UAV operations, as well as the quality of service to demands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Air Mobility (UAM))
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Review

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31 pages, 5399 KiB  
Review
Towards Safe and Efficient Unmanned Aircraft System Operations: Literature Review of Digital Twins’ Applications and European Union Regulatory Compliance
by Elham Fakhraian, Ivana Semanjski, Silvio Semanjski and El-Houssaine Aghezzaf
Drones 2023, 7(7), 478; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7070478 - 20 Jul 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3002
Abstract
Unmanned aerial system/unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations have increased exponentially in recent years. With the creation of new air mobility concepts, industries use cutting-edge technology to create unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for various applications. Due to the popularity and use of advanced technology [...] Read more.
Unmanned aerial system/unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations have increased exponentially in recent years. With the creation of new air mobility concepts, industries use cutting-edge technology to create unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for various applications. Due to the popularity and use of advanced technology in this relatively new and rapidly evolving context, a regulatory framework to ensure safe operations is essential. To reflect the several ongoing initiatives and new developments in the domain of European Union (EU) regulatory frameworks at various levels, the increasing needs, developments in, and potential uses of UAVs, particularly in the context of research and innovation, a systematic overview is carried out in this paper. We review the development of UAV regulation in the European Union. The issue of how to implement this new and evolving regulation in UAS operations is also tackled. The digital twin (DT)’s ability to design, build, and analyze procedures makes it one potential way to assist the certification process. DTs are time- and cost-efficient tools to assist the certification process, since they enable engineers to inspect, analyze, and integrate designs as well as express concerns immediately; however, it is fair to state that DT implementation in UASs for certification and regulation is not discussed in-depth in the literature. This paper underlines the significance of UAS DTs in the certification process to provide a solid foundation for future studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Air Mobility (UAM))
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Other

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17 pages, 4332 KiB  
Hypothesis
A Framework to Develop Urban Aerial Networks by Using a Digital Twin Approach
by Matteo Brunelli, Chiara Caterina Ditta and Maria Nadia Postorino
Drones 2022, 6(12), 387; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6120387 - 29 Nov 2022
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2318
Abstract
The new concept of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and the emergent unmanned aerial vehicles are receiving more and more attention by several stakeholders for implementing new transport solutions. However, there are several issues to solve in order to implement successful UAM systems. Particularly, [...] Read more.
The new concept of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and the emergent unmanned aerial vehicles are receiving more and more attention by several stakeholders for implementing new transport solutions. However, there are several issues to solve in order to implement successful UAM systems. Particularly, setting a suitable framework is central for including this new transportation system into the existing ones—both ground and aerial systems. Regulation and definition of aerial networks, but also the characterization of ground facilities (vertiports) to allow passengers and freight to access the services are among the most relevant issues to be discussed. To identify UAM transportation networks, suitably connected with ground transportation services, digital twin models could be adopted to support the modelling and simulation of existing—and expected—scenarios with constantly updated data for identifying solutions addressing the design and management of transport systems. In this perspective, a digital twin model applied to an existing urban context—the city of Bologna, in northern Italy—is presented in combination with a novel air transport network that includes the third dimension. The 3D Urban Air Network tries to satisfy the principle of linking origin/destination points by ensuring safe aerial paths and suitable aerial vehicle separations. It involves innovative dynamic links powered by a heuristic cost function. This work provides the initial framework to explore the integration of UAM services into realistic contexts, by avoiding the costs associated with flight simulations in reality. Moreover, it can be used for holistic analyses of UAM systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Air Mobility (UAM))
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