Urban Air Mobility System Testbed using CAVE Virtual Reality Environment

Publication Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

IEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings




Urban Air Mobility (UAM) refers to a system of air passenger and small cargo transportation within an urban area. The UAM framework also includes other urban Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) services that will be supported by a mix of onboard, ground, piloted, and autonomous operations. Over the past few years UAM research has gained wide interest from companies and federal agencies as an on-demand innovative transportation option that can help reduce traffic congestion and pollution as well as increase mobility in metropolitan areas. The concepts of UAM/UAS operation in the National Airspace System (NAS) remains an active area of research to ensure safe and efficient operations. With new developments in smart vehicle design and infrastructure for air traffic management, there is a need for methods to integrate and test various components of the UAM framework. In this work, we report on the development of a virtual reality (VR) testbed using the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) technology for human-automation teaming and airspace operation research of UAM. Using a four-wall projection system with motion capture, the CAVE provides an immersive virtual environment with real-time full body tracking capability. We created a virtual environment consisting of San Francisco city and a vertical take-off-and-landing passenger aircraft that can fly between a downtown location and the San Francisco International Airport. The aircraft can be operated autonomously or manually by a single pilot who maneuvers the aircraft using a flight control joystick. The interior of the aircraft includes a virtual cockpit display with vehicle heading, location, and speed information. The system can record simulation events and flight data for post-processing. The system parameters are customizable for different flight scenarios; hence, the CAVE VR testbed provides a flexible method for development and evaluation of UAM framework.

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Science Foundation


Research Foundation