EHang Passenger Drone

Courtesy of EHang

Researchers seek to improve battery power to enable urban air mobility flights.

by Jim Magill

The key to achieving a future of urban air mobility (UAM) lies in the development of a power source, compact enough to not take up too much room or add too much weight to an aircraft, yet powerful enough to deliver the energy needed to power vertical takeoffs and landings, and sustained flight capabilities.

The Federal Aviation Administration defines UAM as “a safe and efficient aviation transportation system that will use highly automated aircraft that will operate and transport passengers or cargo at lower altitudes within urban and suburban areas.” NASA envisions UAM to include small drones, electric aircraft and automated air traffic management.

While researchers have been making great progress in developing batteries to power everything from passenger cars to segments of the electric grid, employing batteries to power aircraft capable of carrying people has…