Modeling Urban Air Mobility

In order to model and simulate urban air mobility (UAM), i.e. the inter- and intra-urban aerial passenger transport with novel eletric vertical take-off and landing vehicles, an extension for the transport simulation MATSim has been developed. This extension enhances MATSim (or see the GitHub pages) by allowing the definition and simulation of Urban Air Mobility infrastructure, vehicles, and operations. This extension is a collaborative development project between Airbus Urban Mobility, Bauhaus Luftfahrt e.V., ETH Zürich, and TU München (Chair of Transportation Systems Engineering) and authored by Raoul Rothfeld and Milos Balac, with support from Aitan Militão.

Modeling Approach

Each UAM trip within the transport simulation consists of multiple segments, namely an access leg, the UAM flight, and an egress leg. The flight itself is modelled with three distinct flight segments comprising vertical take-off, cruise flight, and vertical landing. At each UAM station, the passenger has to undergo pre- and post-flight processes.

The Munich MATSim Scenario (base case and UAM case)

Change in Travel Times

Using the MATSim model for Munich by the Chair of Modelling Spatial Mobility, car and public transport travel times towards Munich city centre have been calculated for peak travel times.

Upon the introduction of various UAM systems with varying flight speeds and, especially, number of stations distributed within the study area, travel time changes can be observed.

First analyses indicate that the number and spatial distribution of stations is fundamental for UAM to provide travel time savings over car use.

Alternative Applications

The developed MATSim extension can also be used to simulate alternative station-based on-demand transportation systems, such as hyperloop (left video) or regional aviation (right video).

Key Publications

  • Rothfeld R. Agent-based Modelling and Simulation of Urban Air Mobility Operation: An Evaluation of Travel Times and Transport Performance. Dissertation. 2021.

  • Rothfeld R, Fu M, Balać M, Antoniou C. Potential Urban Air Mobility Travel Time Savings: An Exploratory Analysis of Munich, Paris, and San Francisco. Sustainability. 2021; 13(4):2217.

  • Al Haddad, C.; Chaniotakis, E.; Straubinger, A.; Plötner, K.; Antoniou, C. Factors affecting the adoption and use of urban air
    mobility. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice 2020, 132, 696–712. doi:10.1016/j.tra.2019.12.020.

  • M. Balac, R. L. Rothfeld and S. Hörl, "The Prospects of on-demand Urban Air Mobility in Zurich, Switzerland," 2019 IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Conference (ITSC), Auckland, New Zealand, 2019, pp. 906-913, doi: 10.1109/ITSC.2019.8916972.

Completed project

On-going project

(edited) 01.10.2022 by Hao Wu