Utah could expand drones and air taxis for the ‘34 Olympics

In 2002, millions of people descended on Utah for the XIX Olympic Winter Games. It was a big opportunity for a state with only 2.2 million people — one that state leaders took seriously. Utah’s transportation agencies successfully implemented a comprehensive plan across the Wasatch Front that seamlessly transported athletes and spectators to Olympic events. The agencies leveraged historic federal, state and local investments to widen I-15 through Salt Lake County and expand service for TRAX and FrontRunner. Travel times were measured in minutes, not hours. In the 22 years since then, an entire generation of Utahns has benefited from these forward-thinking transportation investments.

As Utah is preparing to host the world for the Olympics again in 2034, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make investments that will benefit our children and grandchildren. This time, however, our future transportation system will include not only roads and transit, but also drones and air taxis that operate via “highways in the sky.”

There is precedent for air taxis to operate safely in urban areas. Leveraging electric, vertical take-off and landing technology, German-based Volocopter is transporting passengers in air taxis during this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Paris. Europe isn’t the only region of the world developing these technologies — nor will it be the first to create an entire air transportation system.

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