Investment Opportunity: The Air Mobility Revolution
Air mobility is finally set to revolutionize the way we travel and move cargo, and much more. And it is a massive investment opportunity for those who move early.
For years, we’ve read and heard about how autonomous and commercial drones will transform travel and logistics. Rapid advances in technology are leading to new applications that create new markets. From an investor perspective, this creates a massive opportunity to participate in the commercial success of these ventures.
When USD 1.5 Trillion is only the tip of the iceberg
According to Morgan Stanley’s research, the air mobility sector is a USD 1.5 trillion market opportunity. While this number sounds mind-boggling on its own right, it is only a small portion of the overall air mobility revolution. Many parts don’t even fall under autonomous aircraft. The wide adoption of remotely piloted aircraft will become an even more significant portion of the business opportunity.
Revolutionizing everything, by changing the way people and cargo travel
In the United States, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has taken the lead in helping this industry develop effective rules and best practices that will serve everyone.
NASA’s vision for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) is to help emerging aviation markets to safely develop an air transportation system that moves people and cargo between places previously not served or underserved by aviation – local, regional, intraregional, urban – using revolutionary new aircraft that are only just now becoming possible. AAM includes NASA’s work on Urban Air Mobility and will provide substantial benefit to U.S. industry and the public.”
The key takeaway of this statement is not that they are helping, but that they believe this market is important enough to create an initiative for it.
Operating drones inside used to be a recipe for disaster – today it is revolutionizing warehousing
Many consumers who could not resist testing their newly bought quadcopter inside their house have more or less funny stories to tell about how they clipped curtains or caused their pets to run for safety quickly. Contrast this to so-called Indoor Autonomous Drones that have reached market maturity today. They are about to completely revolutionize how we do business by recording, reporting, and assisting us in our everyday work. A new generation of autonomous drones can take inventory of an entire warehouse in less time than a human can do a single row of shelves. One of the companies leading the way in this revolution is Verity. Their autonomous drones take off at a preset time. Flying from shelf to shelf, the drone scans every box and container. This provides an inventory in real-time. Using similar technology, autonomous drones can be used to count everything from cattle to people. They can be used to ensure that doors and windows are secure in a building or to analyze the exterior of oil platforms and ships for rust and damage. Since they are autonomous and the program, which they’re attached to, can be designed to issue reports in real-time, this will heavily cut down the amount of time humans would spend otherwise doing these tedious tasks.
Autonomous air taxi concepts are about to hit the mainstream market
Like the indoor version, Japan and the United Arab Emirates have begun developing an air taxi system that would take commuters quickly and efficiently from their workplace to their homes. These taxis have no pilot (increasing the vehicle’s useful load for passengers and cargo) and are designed to take off and land autonomously. Because today’s flight computers can process a myriad of visual and electronic cues at an unprecedented speed, or simply respond to wind conditions faster than a human could, these systems will be able to fly with a higher safety record, while providing more comfort for its passengers.
Commercializing technologies previously only available for space exploration and military use
Several technologies new to the commercial sector are contributing to this air mobility revolution: Distributed electric propulsion – Rather than relying on a single propeller or even four, distributed electric propulsion uses many propellers, either horizontal for the helicopter-type drone or vertical, for airplane-styled drones, that make the vehicle more efficient. Electric motors are lighter and more efficient than a traditional internal combustion engine. Paired with more efficient and lighter energy storage, this will result in vehicles that are using its power to carrying cargo, and not mostly its own weight. The possibility to make electric motors of all sizes provides, to paraphrase NASA, “completely new Degrees of Freedom in aircraft design.”* Lightweight composite materials – Technologies borrowed from aircraft and airspace design have resulted in materials (such as carbon and composites) and structures (e.g., 3D printed honeycomb mesh) that surpass the strength of steel at a fraction of the weight. These materials have already found their way into the civilian world, such as cars, high-end general aviation airplanes, and mega-yachts. Transferring this technology to drones will not only reduce their price. It also means that drones can be made as durable as necessary to carry the maximum useful load while requiring much less power to stay airborne. Fly-by-wire technology – “Fly-by-Wire (FBW) is a generally accepted term for those flight control systems which use computers to process the flight control inputs made by the pilot or autopilot, and send corresponding electrical signals to the flight control surface actuators.”* By eliminating traditional wires, cables, and hydraulic systems in aircraft, fly-by-wire will make the craft lighter and even more responsive to a pilot’s input. And fewer moving parts translates to less potential for material failure. FBW is evolving, but it is anything but new and unproven. Modern airliners use it. The first FBW systems were installed in the U.S. multirole combat aircraft called the F-16 Viper in 1973. It has proven so successful that later variants of the airplane are still being manufactured today, and continue to be exported worldwide. The computer processing layer between the pilot and the flight surfaces enables pilots to transfer their mind-share on operating the sensors and weapons systems and not to be bothered to keeping the aircraft within the flight envelope. Even more fascinating is the fact that such modern systems can compensate for mechanical failures by dynamically reconfiguring the remaining flight surfaces and systems to get the aircraft, and its crew and payload, safely to the ground. Autonomous flight technology – As mentioned earlier, autonomous flight technology (AFT) is at the very heart of the air mobility revolution. These crafts, whether flying cargo, humans or merely doing chores which humans used to do, will operate without direct and constant human intervention. This will take us to a time where the technology of science fiction, from the Jetsons to Star Wars, will become a reality.
The Air Mobility Revolution is happening, often under investors’ radars. New technologies are being developed every day. The entire system simply awaits a few giant leaps, such as energy storage improvements, that will change it from being an expensive novelty to cost-efficient everyday technology. We might finally get the flying cars we were promised. Aviation today is already safer than traveling in our car. Eliminating human error through autonomous flight technology will make travel even safer by at least an order of magnitude. The lightweight composite materials and distributed electric propulsion can make it more efficient to carry humans and cargo by air than by land or sea. At Stableton, our mission is to help investors getting access to the otherwise secluded private investments market. With initial investments of as little at CHF 10’000, almost every investor can be a part of this future.* We work with individual investors, institutions, and investment professionals to deliver these outstanding opportunities.
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