Air urban mobility set to take off in Miami
The Miami Parking Authority and the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works are already thinking about how to integrate emerging urban air mobility into the transportation ecosystem in Miami.
Air mobility of passengers is closer than we might think, “it is something that would be here within the next two to three years,” said Alejandra “Alex” Argudin, parking authority CEO, who has deep involvement in seeking opportunities and solutions on urban mobility.
Air mobility will require places to land in Miami, and that is where the cities and public authorities play a role, she said.
“The interest for us would be visualizing the possibility of, in the future, being able to equip our roofs of one of the garages we build, for example, to be a takeoff or landing pad for aircrafts. Alternately, we would have to study how to retrofit our structures to see if the structures would allow for the weight to put a landing pad,” Ms. Argudin said.
At the moment, she explained, not many of these buildings have the capacity to hold a landing pad for a flying aircraft. As a result, she sees this transportation as more “futuristic,” where the authority has a plan to build something and if they find a partner who is interested, then they will have to create structures with the capacity to carry aircraft loads.
The potential of this air transportation will be at the disposal of different users. “It would not be different from other services like Uber or Lyft. I think they will be used for flying for longer distances than just moving here throughout the city. Let’s say from here to Orlando or Fort Lauderdale,” Ms. Argudin said.
The authority was planning to demonstrate the dropping-off of a medical package at CoMotion Miami Live, a conference being held this week. But due to aircraft restrictions in Europe, the exhibition of aircrafts delivering mobility solutions was postponed. Later, “we will have an event where we will have a demonstration that this is the future,” Ms. Argudin said.
The Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works is also giving a look to air transit. Carlos Cruz-Casas, assistant director, has as a primary focus to “introduce mobility innovation and plan for a fully integrated transportation system,” as described in the department website.
In Mr. Cruz-Casas’s opinion, people’s mobility by aircraft in urban areas might take a while, but there are air mobility solutions in package delivery already happening in the cities. “The question it has prompted is who is responsible for managing the traffic in the air?”
Mr. Cruz-Casas gave assurances that the department is looking to policies that will potentially offer guidance on the use of the public space for these types of vehicles. The department is introducing the Mobility Data Specification (MDS), which is a new standard format for public agencies and private sector mobility solutions to communicate in a universal language.
“We are focusing on the application of the MDS towards the management and the utilization of the public right-of-way and how we can deliver policies. For example, we cannot put a stop sign in the air…. It is all about leveraging this digital expression of policies and applying it to all mobility solutions from the air, land and sea,” Mr. Cruz-Casas said.
This project is part of a collaboration with C-Lab Miami, an initiative created by CoMotion Miami, in which the Miami Parking Authority and different stakeholders have been discussing solutions since its creation in June 2020.
“Ultimately, MDS is that tissue that brings everything together and it can allow for data exchange and then using this data exchange to deliver the policies the way we do today with street signs,” Mr. Cruz-Casas added.
This project is expected to take four to six months to wrap up efforts being made with different cities and is to serve as a facilitating tool when urban air mobility solutions deepen their presence in Miami.