Advanced Air Mobility Conference Takes Flight at UCF
The NSF-funded conference on Friday will explore how laws could lift or ground the use of autonomous, uncrewed aircraft to move people and goods.
By Danielle Hendrix ’15
ORLANDO, March 7, 2023 – Imagine being able to take your commute from the highways to the skies by hailing your own flying taxi. It’s a possibility that could become reality as researchers and stakeholders invest in transformative airborne technologies known as advanced air mobility (AAM).
This technology includes the concept of aerial ridesharing, and is defined as the local, on-demand movement of people and goods through use of autonomous, uncrewed aircraft that take off and land vertically.
To help explore this vision of the future, the University of Central Florida is hosting the Advanced Air Mobility Conference on Friday, March 10 at the Celeste Hotel.
The goal of the U.S. National Science Foundation-funded conference is to generate knowledge and identify further areas of inquiry with respect to the significance and feasibility of AAM. Its central theme questions whether law will lift or ground a new era of human transportation.
Advocates of AAM say the technology could help reduce congestion and change the landscape of the urban mobility experience relative to heavy-infrastructure approaches like roads, rails, bridges and tunnels. By offering aerial ridesharing at traditional taxi prices, AAM would offer an affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation modality between places previously not served via aviation.
Tim Ravich, associate professor in the College of Community Innovation and Education’s Department of Legal Studies, is the principal investigator of the conference project.
An aviation lawyer himself, Ravich is intrigued not only by the idea of AAM but also by the intersection of law and science that accompanies it — as well as the innovative transportation modality’s potential.
Ravich is working with fellow college researchers and co-principal investigators, Sarah Bush and Laurie Campbell, to bring the conference to life.
Conference speakers include:
- Faculty from UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science
- Aviation consultants from Woolpert and Hovecon
- Local and state government representatives, including the City of Orlando
- National leaders like U.S. Senator Mark Warner
- “Vertiport” companies like Skyports and Ferrovia
- Global manufacturers of the electric vertical take-off-and-landing airplanes (eVTOL) at the center of the AAM revolution such as by Supernal (Hyundai), Lilium (Germany) and Joby (U.S.)
“Various stakeholders are coalescing the concept of AAM to simply mean that flight from one point to another in a localized area might be available to a wide swath of the population that were previously unserved or underserved,” he says. “The idea that you could take a flight in the same fashion that you might take a taxi is new. The idea that you could fly from one part of town to another does not exist, and it might benefit a broader range of people who have never used aviation.”
Aside from engineering challenges, Ravich says AAM is also not without a host of legal and regulatory implications including property law, jurisdiction, safety and security, community acceptance, cybersecurity, crime and policing, and social and economic equity.
“We're focused on an understanding of how the law can drive or inhibit these technical challenges,” Ravich says. “During this conference, we want to talk about these issues so that we can identify problems and resolve them where possible. On one side, there are the scientific and engineering constraints –– making sure these aircraft fly economically, reliably and safely with limited noise. There's the legal aspect, which is still in development and includes property law and airspace jurisdiction. Then there are constraints related to issues of social equity. Would this be inclusive and accessible across all social demographics?”
Ravich adds that women and other underrepresented groups historically have received limited opportunities to participate in the development of some innovative technologies in aviation, law and science. This conference will be intentional in elevating voices from across a broad demographic spectrum, which can help inform AAM’s aspiration to be accessible.
“UCF is a great platform for this type of work,” he says. “Many universities and institutions are focusing on this, but I do think UCF and Florida, specifically, are globally leading places as a testbed for this innovation.”
Those interested in attending the UCF Advanced Air Mobility Conference can reserve their in-person or remote spot by registering through Eventbrite. Registration is free, but in-person space is limited.
Research Team Credentials
Ravich joined UCF in 2014 as an assistant professor and served as the Department of Legal Studies’ interim chair from 2021 to 2022. He earned his MBA in aviation planning and policy from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and his juris doctorate degree from the University of Miami School of Law. His research interests include aviation and space law, civil procedure, and technology and law.
Bush is co-principal investigator and a professor of K-12 STEM education in the School of Teacher Education, which she joined in 2017. She earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction for mathematics education from the University of Louisville. She has received more than $6.3 million in externally funded projects since 2015.
Campbell is co-principal investigator and an associate professor in the Department of Learning Sciences and Educational Research. She earned her doctorate in educational psychology from Regent University. Campbell joined UCF in 2012. She has received over $2 million in externally funded projects.