Crown Consulting has been chosen by Ohio’s Department of Transportation (ODOT) to conduct a six-month study into the impact of advanced autonomous aircraft technologies on the US state’s economy.

Working with the University of Cincinnati and NEXA Capital Partners LLC, Crown will estimate the economic impacts of introducing and maintaining urban and regional air mobility (URAM) and unmanned air traffic management (UTM) systems in managed air corridors connecting Ohio’s major urban centers.

Researchers will examine the use of drones, autonomous cargo aircraft, medevac organ transplant delivery, air taxis and other advanced autonomous aircraft scenarios across the state.

Of particular focus will be the Interstate 71 corridor, which is nearly 350 miles long and the main highway which connects Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus – Ohio’s most populous city.

Crown Chairman and CEO, Al Khan, said: “Ohio is a leader and one of only a handful of locations in the country setting an ambitious path toward advanced air mobility. The state’s political and financial commitments match its rich aviation heritage. We are honored to help the state advance to the next strategic level with data and analysis of these transformative technologies.”

Crown’s work will support ODOT’s DriveOhio initiative, which is focused on advancing smart mobility in Ohio and being a one-stop shop for those looking to develop, test and deploy advanced mobility solutions in the state.

The study also aims to provide critical data which ODOT will use to plan how best to leverage advanced autonomous aircraft technologies to benefit the state.

Kelly Cohen is the University of Cincinnati’s Head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics in UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. He directs the University of Cincinatti’s UAV Master Lab, where students engineer innovative unmanned aerial vehicle technology and applications.

He said: “This study is one of the first of its kind in the United States and will be watched across the country. Our UC UAV Team is extremely excited to participate in this important work.

“ODOT is at the forefront of investing in these technologies in a thoughtful way to enable viable business cases while assuring the public that operations will be safe and valuable to its citizens. Columbus’ SmartCity initiative is a path finder within the U.S. and they are thinking about how to connect transportation modes to include advanced air mobility.”

Ohio is home of the Wright Brothers, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong and 21 other astronauts, boasts key aviation and aerospace assets such as NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. More than 600 aerospace companies are in the state and it is also the USA’s largest aerospace supply sector.

Crown’s Science & Research team works with states, the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA and industry partners to plan and deploy advanced air mobility systems.

The team helps clients advance manned and unmanned airspace integration, infuse autonomy into air mobility solutions, develop and assess air vehicle technology concepts, and manage and use big data for real-time safety and operational support.