Air Taxi Skyport Location Problem for Airport Access

Rath, Srushti, Chow, Joseph Y. J. Artificial Intelligence 

Air taxis are poised to be an additional mode of transportation in major cities suffering from ground transportation congestion. Among several potential applications of air taxis, we focus on their use within a city to transport passengers to nearby airports. Specifically, we consider the problem of determining optimal locations for skyports (enabling pick-up of passengers to airport) within a city. Our approach is inspired from hub location problems, and our proposed method optimizes for aggregate travel time to multiple airports while satisfying the demand (trips to airports) either via (i) ground transportation to skyport followed by an air taxi to the airport, or (ii) direct ground transportation to the airport. The number of skyports is a constraint, and the decision to go via the skyport versus direct ground transportation is a variable in the optimization problem. Extensive experiments on publicly available airport trips data from New York City (NYC) show the efficacy of our optimization method implemented using Gurobi. In addition, we share insightful results based on the NYC data set on how ground transportation congestion can impact the demand and service efficiency in such skyports; this emerges as yet another factor in deciding the optimal number of skyports and their locations for a given city.

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