September 16, 2021 | Optimizing for the Third Dimension: Prime Radiant™

The field of urban air mobility (UAM) cannot be developed solely around the technology of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. For UAM to succeed as an alternative to two-dimensional travel on roads, we also have to face the challenge of creating a three-dimensional infrastructure to address traffic in the sky. That’s why Archer created Prime Radiant, its proprietary data science technology in support of its efforts to develop an eVTOL and UAM network. Creating safe, affordable and sustainable eVTOL aircraft isn’t enough to bring the UAM network vision to life. We’re also being thoughtful about designing our UAM network infrastructure to make sure this new technology is as accessible and efficient as possible with the goal of mass adoption. Minimizing the amount of time it takes to get to and from UAM network vertiports is equally as important as the amount of time you spend in the air.  

Using Data to Inform the Future

We know that smart planning can reduce traffic congestion and noise pollution, and improve the overall quality of life in a city’s communities. UAM presents players within the emerging eVTOL industry with the rare opportunity to create a transportation infrastructure, literally from the ground up. 

Our aim is to use data to allow us to make better decisions on building out our UAM network, including matters like where to locate vertiports in order to ensure accessibility, and how to plan routes to optimize for efficiency and minimize disruption to the daily activities happening in our communities. We also use data to look at how to pool passengers more efficiently to enable attractive fare pricing, and how to save those passengers time on their journeys. Beyond just our own operations, we also plan to use data as we work closely with our city partners to help ensure that UAM fits seamlessly into their future transit networks. UAM has the opportunity to move past the limitations that our current urban travel infrastructure imposes on our daily lives (e.g., traffic gridlock that can only be fixed by adding more lanes, which can take years to do and be very expensive).

Introducing Prime Radiant

Archer’s solution for helping it efficiently design and develop its UAM network is Prime Radiant, a system simulation framework that determines optimal vertiport networks and vehicle specifications to maximize unit economics and customer experiences. Prime Radiant is poised to help us build UAM technology and infrastructure that we believe will revolutionize the way people move in and around cities.

Powered by proprietary large-scale optimization and machine learning models, Prime Radiant allows us to better understand how people travel within cities around the world, which will inform our strategic decisions that shape our go-to-market strategy. Leading the way on the project is Jon Petersen, who, prior to Archer, led Data Science at Uber Elevate. 

Through our data modeling, Petersen and his experienced team guide decisions related to Archer’s vehicle specification requirements for speed, range and passenger capacity, a host of logistical problems (including passenger pooling, aircraft routing and battery charging decisions, and vertiport infrastructure locations and topologies) and estimating the overall market size and revenue opportunity of a particular city.

“We use Prime Radiant to better understand where to put takeoff and landing sites, what to charge for the service, and ultimately how to save people time in their commute,” Archer co-founder Brett Adcock told Aviation Today. “For takeoff and landing sites, our goal is to use existing real estate with light retrofitting whenever possible, that includes helipads and other locations such as rooftops, land parcels and parking lots.”

Creating Smarter Skyways

Many airports are typically located on the outskirts of major cities because they require large amounts of land to accommodate the runways required for commercial aircraft and to mitigate sound pollution. In addition to this, many inter-city train stations were not built in optimal locations, limiting their convenience for passengers. Empowered by the data from Prime Radiant, Archer will look to make planning decisions that can meet passengers where and how they want to travel, instead of forcing passengers to conform to infrastructure routes that were planned based on norms established decades ago. 

Prime Radiant is just one more way that Archer is ensuring that eVTOL transportation is fair, equitable and available to all passengers looking for a better way to travel.