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Urban Air Mobility Research and Technology

Statement of Task

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will convene an ad hoc committee to assess the feasibility of an a safe and efficient urban air mobility (UAM) system. In terms of general definition and concept of operations, the committee will consider UAM to be a system for air passenger and cargo transportation within a metropolitan area (including operations over densely populated urban areas), with vehicles ranging from small drones to passenger aircraft with electrically powered vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) capabilities. For both manned and unmanned aircraft, the study will focus on a system vision (including interface/integration into broader air transportation systems, ground transportation systems, and smart city systems generally), barriers, entrepreneurial approaches, and research projects that are particular to operation in uncontrolled airspace over metropolitan areas. In particular the committee will:

1. Consider

  • Essential characteristics of a UAM system
  • Key barriers to developing and deploying a UAM system that demonstrates the essential characteristics
  • Risk-based approaches to addressing key barriers, so that evolutionary market development can occur, from market emergence with limited operations, through growth and expansion as safety cases and community acceptance allows, and finally to mature operations in urban areas.
  • Progress in related areas, such as the development and implementation of standards and operational capabilities to enable unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations, the UAS Traffic Management system, cybersecurity, and urban planning.
  • Highly entrepreneurial approaches, including non-aviation industry entrants, that are relevant to UAM market development.

2. Prepare a report that will:

  • Develop and discuss a recommended national vision for UAM.
  • Identify and prioritize by group the key technical, economic, regulatory, and policy barriers to achieve the vision.
  • Assess the potential impact of highly entrepreneurial approaches, including those that could be implemented by non-aviation industry entrants, in achieving the vision.
  • Recommend key research projects that NASA, other government agencies, industry, and academia could employ to overcome the barriers and facilitate likely approaches to achieving the vision.
  • Assess the potential and benefit for a public-private partnership in addressing the technical, economic, regulatory, policy, and other related (e.g., urban planning) requirements.

Committee Meetings

May 22-23, 2019

Washington, DC

View Agenda and Presentations


*Presentations which have been made available for posting will be added after the meeting is complete.

Committee Members

View Bios

Nicholas D. Lappos

Atherton A. Carty
Lockheed Martin

Daniel DeLaurentis
Purdue University

George t. Ligler, NAE
GTL associates

Nancy G. Leveson, NAE
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Vineet Mehta

James G. Bellingham
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Lourdes Q. Maurice
DLM Global Strategies

Paul E. McDuffee
Boeing Company

Ella M. Atkins
University of Michigan

Constantine Samaras
Carnegie Mellon University


Dwayne Day
Study Director

Gaybrielle Holbrook
Program Coordinator