Six European institutions are exploring the idea of small commuter helicopters for travelling between homes and working places to tackle the growing city traffic.
The European institutions, including the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Germany, and the University of Liverpool, UK, are studying the feasibility of small commuter helicopters in an EU-funded project dubbed 'MyCopter'.
"Considering the prevailing congestion problems with ground-based transportation and the anticipated growth of traffic in the coming decades, a major challenge is to find solutions that combine the best of ground-based and air-based transportation," researchers said on the project website.
They said an optimal solution would consist in creating a personal air transport system (PATS) that can overcome the environmental and financial costs associated with all of our current methods of transport.
"We propose an integrated approach to enable the first viable PATS based on Personal Aerial Vehicles (PAVs) envisioned for travelling between homes and working places, and for flying at low altitude in urban environments," researchers said.
Such PAVs should be fully or partially autonomous without requiring ground-based air traffic control.
Furthermore, they should operate outside controlled airspace while current air traffic remains unchanged, and should later be integrated into the next generation of controlled airspace.
The MyCopter project aims to pave the way for PAVs to be used by the general public within the context of such a transport system.
The project consortium consists of experts that can make the technology advancements necessary for a viable PATS, and a partner to assess the impact of the envisioned PATS on society.
To this end, test models of handling dynamics for potential PAVs will be designed and implemented on unmanned aerial vehicles, motion simulators, and a manned helicopter.
In addition, an investigation into the human capability of flying a PAV will be conducted, resulting in a user-centred design of a suitable human-machine interface (HMI).