In a bid to "revolutionise city and regional transportation", Atkins has teamed up with UK company Vertical Aerospace to develop a plan for flying inter-city taxis.
Atkins will design a blueprint for the necessary infrastructure, including passenger experience, operating models, intelligent mobility and cyber security.
Last September Vertical Aerospace carried out a successful test flight of an unmanned prototype of its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, and is planning to begin a commercial service by 2023.
Atkins is already working on vehicle safety and certification support for Vertical Aerospace.
Philip Hoare, president of Atkins, said: "As the world’s population continues to grow, our current city transportation models, associated infrastructure and ways of operating will need to adapt to meet unprecedented demand. Vertical Aerospace and Atkins’ pioneering work to take on-demand travel skyward, by developing a system in which eVTOL can operate, has the potential to revolutionise future city and regional transportation."
Stephen Fitzpatrick, founder and chief executive of Vertical Aerospace, said: "As we push ahead with developing the technology to decarbonise flight, we must keep passenger experience and safety at the forefront of our designs. Atkins are the perfect partner to develop this infrastructure from the ground upwards and we are delighted to be working with them."
A rendering of a future taxi base (Atkins)
Atkins is a subsidiary of Canadian engineer and contractor, SNC-Lavalin. The teams will work in Bristol, one of the centres of the UK’s aerospace industry.
Other companies are working on flying taxis. Airbus and Boeing have well-advanced plans for them, with Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg saying in January 2018 that self-piloted crafts could be hovering above city streets within a decade.
This week two US firms joined to offer floating landing pads for Transcend’s vertical take-off air taxis (see Further reading).
Top image: Vertical’s prototype eVTOL aircraft made an unmanned maiden flight last year