Flying taxiBy Casey Jones, CAPP

Just more than 116 years ago, Orville Wright piloted the first flight in a “heavier than air” machine at present-day Kill Devil Hills, N.C. The Wright brothers’ success was not guaranteed and plenty of people believed we’d have wings on our backs if we were meant to fly.

As innovations go, human flight fits within the top echelon of transformative endeavors and nearly everyone in the world, whether you fly or not, has benefited from the invention. Heretofore, our industry has largely been worlds apart from flight with the exception, of course, of airport parking and a relatively few helicopter-pad equipped parking facilities. The relationship between flight and parking is likely to change. On January 7, 2020 the first autonomous taxi will be piloted in the U.S., again in North Carolina–this time in Raleigh.

Autonomous air taxis make possible three-dimensional, personal, on-demand air travel principally suited for short inter-city trips, and could very well serve as a key to addressing and mitigating the gridlock and traffic congestion that has come to define life and business in our largest cities.

Parking garages are ideally suited to accommodate drop-off and pick-up and connect air-taxi travelers to other modes of transportation in their capacity as mobility hubs. As our industry’s objective turns increasing to all forms of access and mobility, it behooves us all to take seriously that which may at first seem as impractical and risky, as flight did at the dawn of the 20th century.

Casey Jones, CAPP, is senior parking and mobility planner with DESMAN.