SALT LAKE CITY — Utah may one day be home to an airborne version of the I-15 freeway thanks to technology being developed right here in the Beehive State.

Imagine tooling around the skies in vehicles that are human-guided or autonomous, much in the same way that we move about in our motorized four- and two-wheeled vehicles today. That time is approaching faster than some may realize.

Ultra-cool technology was on full display at Utah’s State Capitol as part of 2019 Aerospace Day on the Hill. Various companies and organizations steeped in the industry participated in an event aimed at showing state lawmakers the economic importance of their sector and the innovations currently in development.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

A personal flying vehicle from Electrafly, a Utah-based startup company, is displayed during the 2019 Aerospace Day the Capitol Rotunda in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. The demonstration was part the 2019 Aerospace Day, where the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, leading companies from the aerospace and defense industry, and association representatives met to discuss challenges and opportunities in the aerospace industry.

Among the innovations of interest was aerial transportation, which could change the way people move about in their daily lives, explained UDOT Director of Aeronautics Jared Esselman. Similar to the transition to motorized horseless carriages that are in use today, the state is on the brink of the next major personal transportation advancement, he said.

“We are inventing this as we go along. Nobody has ever done this before,” he said. “Everybody’s dreamed about it and it’s very sci-fi, but we have the technology.”

UDOT already has the pieces in place, he said. “We’ve just got to put that puzzle together.”

Esselman said his agency is looking to the example of the nation’s “high altitude” regulators — the Federal Aviation Administration — as well as ground transit regulators, to figure out “middle ground” standards for low-altitude (less than a mile high) aviation.

He said the aeronautics industry is anticipating integration of low aviation by 2023.

“That’s not that long from now,” he said. “(Right now) there is package delivery happening. The next logical step is, ‘Now we’re riding (in the air) to work.'”

While some might worry about the potential hazards of everyday air transit compared to traditional motorized vehicles, he channeled his inner “son of Krypton” to make a point about safety.

“As the famous Superman line goes, ‘Flying in the safest way to travel,'” Esselman said.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

An “enemy drone” is freed from a net after Fortem Technologies’ DroneHunter captured it during a demonstration outside the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. The demonstration was part the 2019 Aerospace Day, where the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, leading companies from the aerospace and defense industry, and association representatives met to discuss challenges and opportunities in the aerospace industry.

Meanwhile, two nearby northern Utah counties are hoping to become the test range for the next level of daily local commuter and business transit.

“The overall mission …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

      

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Utah’s interstate in the sky could be a reality one day

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