«Submission to European Transport Conference 2013 Title: Personal air vehicles as a new option for commuting in Europe: vision or illusion? Authors: ...»
In summary it can be said that a broad range of uncertainty remains. To a certain extent this is surely a somewhat superficial statement, since is actually accounts for all future developments. However, in the case of PAVs it is particularly difficult to assess whether experiences from other transport modes can be transferred to PAVs or if such a new form of mobility will co-evolve with new patterns of demand and usage. If we take nowadays experiences and settings as a basis, it appears to be hard for PAVs to compete with the well-established transport infrastructure in terms of economy, comfort and speed. For example, it seems as if nowadays ground-based transport systems are much more independent from extreme weather conditions as PAVs are. Because of dense urban structures it seems unlikely (but not impossible) that PAVs will deliver real door-to-door services for a high number of users.
These examples illustrates well, that the barrier will probably not be the PAV technology itself.
Prototypes exist and even if it is still a long way to go, it seems rather likely that in the next decades a highly autonomous or even a full autonomous PAV will be available. The crucial point is the embedment of the new transport mode in the existing transport system and to make it compatible with the habits and preferences of the users. It is important to acknowledge that the transport system is not static but is changing under several aspects. Also the other transport modes experience a modernization. It might be even harder for MyCopter to compete with autonomously driven cars in the future, since these have the potential to offer a high degree of comforts (office on four wheels) and real door-to-door service (the car find a parking facility by itself). Nevertheless, there are also some reasons why MyCopters can make their way. Establishing PAVs in the transport sector would mean a significant change to the established technology-infrastructure system - as it was illustrated in this paper. However, significant changes are rather the rule than an exemption in the transport system. New transport modes such as railways or cars were always confronted with highly skeptical attitudes towards the new technologies (see Meyer et al. 2011 chap. 5.2). It took less than half a century to make the regime of automobility a dominating element of the transport sector. This included a reconstruction of urban areas to enable automobility. The pace of change is generally much higher nowadays than it was about hundred years ago. PAVs definitely come along with benefits. The analysis conducted so far in the MyCopter project revealed that, amongst others, the issue of automatisation is a highly crucial enabler for a broader market penetration of PAVs. From that perspective, it is imaginable that the ongoing automatisation of other transport modes (including the upcoming automatisation of private cars) will pave the way for PAVs. Here, one can assume that full autonomous driving might even be easier to reach in the air since the overall number of unexpected participants in the systems (such as bicycle riders and pedestrians, playing children, dogs,etc.) is much lower. The questions regarding the mode of automatisation as well as the questions referring to the user acceptability will be answered in the final report presented in 2014.
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