When you think of ‘the future’ you think of hover crafts, things flying through the sky and masses of advanced-tech robots wherever you turn. Well now is the time to get excited about that version of the future becoming a reality, and sooner than you may think thanks to Vertiports.
Tech company Skyport have begun acquiring rooftop space throughout London from office buildings to railway stations and multi-storey car parks in order to create ‘Vertiports’. So called ‘Vertiports’ will eventually become landing sites for aircrafts that take off and land vertically, similarly to drones.
Skyport are a start-up company based in London who have already bought the rights to 15 rooftops throughout the city. Assured that the concept of drone travel is set to take off, excuse the pun, they hope to accumulate 80 – 100 rooftops over the next 18 months.
Duncan Walker of Skyports told Dezeen, “I can see it being absolutely commonplace … Just as we were designing bike parking spaces into buildings five years ago, I can see drone ports becoming standard in buildings.”
Dissimilar to existing Heliports, the pads will include recharging points and, with early drone use focusing on the transportation of goods, loading and unloading bays will also feature on the rooftops. Working with architects Barr Gazetas the ports aim to be discrete and environmentally friendly.
Barr Gazetas’ director, Jon Eaglesham also told Dezeen, “We are designing discreet, efficient, secure and environmentally friendly places that will promote a new level of connectivity within the city.” He added: “Air taxis might feel like a futuristic invention, but they will soon be filling our skies.”
The Future of Drones in UK Airspace
However, there are currently restrictions and difficulties facing those interested in drone travel due to the complexity of London’s airspace. Larger countries or those with less traffic throughout their skies are advancing into the field much more rapidly.
Dubai, a destination that has become increasingly popular with tourists in recent years, are current frontrunners in drone transportation with infrastructure already in place to support passenger flights as soon as 2020. China is another country that already operates a huge number of transportation drones while Finland and Switzerland are also advancing quickly in the market.
In the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) who regulate British airspace are working towards a legal framework that accommodates the presence of such technology across our skies. They have a dedicated team in regular conversation with industry professionals that are attempting to safely turn around barriers to urban drone flights in UK airspace that is currently leaving us lagging behind the competition.
Uber are another company with big plans to bring air travel to our cities. UberAIR is soon to be available in three cities with differing focuses and diversities. This creates a representative population and ensures the service will become a long term success for a range of people in a variety of places.
The overall aim of UberAIR, a network of small electronic aircraft known as VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) is to alleviate congestion on the ground and slash commuting time between cities.
Once the selection of all three cities is complete, Uber plan to run demonstrator flights as soon as 2020 while commercial operations could commence as soon as 2023. This is something that Uber eventually foresee as an ‘affordable form of daily transportation for the masses, even less expensive than owning a car.’
Benefits to London’s Landlords
This advancement in technology will lead to significant changes in London’s architecture and not just through the incorporation of rooftop Vertiports. The ground floor entrance will soon be redundant and reception spaces will move to the top floor of buildings. Deliveries will also arrive via drones and specialised portals on the sides of skyscrapers will become common sights.
So, how does this benefit landlords and why should they be willing to accept these dramatic changes?
One main reason is the increased connectivity. Buildings with Vertiports are much more attractive to those who live outside of the city; they create the ability for workers to minimise their commute time while reducing the stress of travelling. This edge will in turn allow landlords to increase rents.
What’s more, increased connectivity is not just exclusive for those who work within a Vertiport building. Those using the facility will also come to use other available amenities before they exit the centre. More frequent use of onsite cafés and restaurants will further elevate the building’s profits.
The immanency of these technologies is incredibly exciting and the investment and confidence that companies such as Skyport are injecting into the capital is equally thrilling. Londonoffices may be introducing Vertiports as a key feature of our London office buildings sooner than we thought.