We sat down with Professor GeCheng Zha, Director of MEAMI to ask a few important questions:
What is one thing Floridians may not know about your evTOLs?
MEAMI, the Miami Engineering Autonomous Mobility Initiative at the University of Miami, is a comprehensive and holistic effort in partnership of universities, corporates, government and community organizations at advancing and making advance autonomous mobility a reality. One key aspect of it is related to developments in electric propulsion, and eVTOL technology. The next generation e-propulsion technology being developed at the University of Miami is called coflow jet or CFJ. With the use of this technology, we do not need to have the propellers face upward or change direction to face forward to vertically takeoff/land or cruise. This ensures that there are minimal moving parts and the need for less maintenance. Our evTOLs will also incorporate prototypes of sensors, beyond line-of-sight communication, and novel battery technologies for increased range and minimally supervised flights. The development and use of AI/ML techniques will also be a critical component of the work that will be done for the eVTOLs.
What is one opportunity and one challenge that MEAMI/evTOLs are facing?
Opportunity: The eVTOL industry in the United States and by extension, Florida, is the new frontier with so many different players bringing in many different eVTOL technologies. The recently formed government-industry-academia consortium, Miami Engineering Autonomous Mobility Initiative (MEAMI) will help kickstart discussions regarding standardization, safety requirements, challenges surrounding eVTOL acceptance, and connecting different groups together. We have the expertise and people necessary to develop a new eVTOL industry in Florida using our new technology but always welcome new partners.
Challenge: An undertaking of this magnitude requires coordination and ensuring the satisfaction of all stakeholders involved while simultaneously guiding the development of practical regulations. This requires a significant amount of funding to accomplish not only from the federal government, but also from different private players and companies. Another significant challenge is trying to consolidate the rapidly growing body of knowledge and disseminating this to the public. MEAMI will address the challenge of community outreach so that advanced autonomous mobility is more readily accepted.
What is one way we can unite to help advance the work that MEAMI is doing or advance the evTOL industry?
As stated before, MEAMI is a cross-disciplinary consortium with various stakeholders from industry, academia, and different levels of government. It would be wonderful if we can add more partners to the consortium so we have good representation from different backgrounds such as aerodynamics/propulsion, sensing and imaging, artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced materials, and workforce development. Consider joining the MEAMI consortium and contribute to the development of cutting-edge technology by way of funding, technology development, and other resources. We always welcome new collaborations and partnerships which can help us add to the growing body of knowledge and make eVTOLs a reality. We have all dreamt of flying cars for a long time and MEAMI in Miami is happy to help make that a reality.