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from left to right: Albert Ortig (Mayor of Ried i.I.), Christoph Vormair (Center Manager at Weberzeile Ried), Robert Machtlinger (CEO of FACC), Christoph Andexlinger (Head of Center & Facility Management of SES) and Commissioner Markus Achleitner (Upper Austria) during the presentation of the air taxi at Weberzeile Ried. Credit: SES / Andreas Kolarik

Tangible Innovation: Cooperation with FACC Introduces Autonomous “Air Taxi” at SES Shopping Center

Under the slogan “From Ried to the wider world – the future begins at Weberzeile”, Upper Austrian aviation group FACC and SES Spar European Shopping Centers recently presented the autonomous air taxi at Weberzeile Ried.

The cooperation includes an exclusive exhibition, which is due to begin on 10 October, after which it will be featured at other selected SES centers throughout Austria. FACC and SES are thereby making innovation accessible to a broad public in a unique way and for the very first time. Series production is scheduled to begin in 2019 and will mark an important step in the development of autonomous aviation, which is already a reality in certain regions of Asia.

SES has a reputation within the industry for being the first to introduce innovations and trends: from shop innovations, star architecture, state-of-the-art technologies, a partnership in Austria’s first managed shopping street in Vienna to the first air taxi exhibition, launched at Weberzeile shopping center.

“We not only provide retail services to our customers, but we deliver experience, emotion, and innovation as well. SES centers are vibrant meeting places of the highest quality that offer customers more than just shopping. This ranges from exciting events and promotions as well as urban quality of stay to excellent gastronomy and first-class services. Therefore, the autonomous air taxi exhibition is a perfect match for SES – we offer the ideal setting in which to enable our visitors to experience innovations up close,” said Christoph Andexlinger SES Head of Center & Facility Management.

The Future Begins at WEBERZEILE

A mutual interest in future urban themes on the part of SES and FACC set the cooperation in motion. Weberzeile Ried, the initiator, inspired FACC with its idea to exhibit the air taxis at the shopping center. The collaboration between two major players in the region has resulted in an exclusive exhibition, which has been extended to other Austrian SES shopping centers.

“Our collaboration with FACC represents an example of excellent interdisciplinary cooperation between retail and industry, which offers added value to the general population in the region. I am proud to work together with an innovative company like FACC, and I am pleased to present an ingenious product that gives insight into the future of mobility to a great number of interested visitors at Weberzeile,” said Christoph Vormair, Center Manager of Weberzeile Ried.

The exclusive exhibition of the air taxi is scheduled to begin at Weberzeile Ried on Thursday, October 10, 2019 and will run until November 4.

Innovation out of Upper Austria: Air Taxi made by FACC

“The question is no longer whether, but rather when air taxis will arrive on the scene. In any case, we have positioned ourselves at the forefront,” explained Robert Machtlinger, CEO of FACC AG.

FACC, an Upper Austrian aerospace group, is engaged in a strategic partnership with EHang, one of the world’s best companies in the field of autonomous aviation, that is centered on autonomous aircraft (Autonomous Aerial Vehicles, AAV) as well as the further development of individual air traffic in the future.

“We are excited about the cooperation: It provides us with the possibility to present the novelty to the general public. At the same time, we see a lot of potential to drive the issue of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) forward together with SES, from drone logistics in the retail sector to the development of shopping centers to mobility hubs. I would like to thank SES and our partner FACC for this opportunity”, said Felix Lee, CEO of EHang Europe. “Series production of the air taxi is due to begin in 2019. Several thousand advance orders have already been placed worldwide. City populations are rapidly increasing around the world, which will result in more people being affected by traffic jams on roads on a daily basis. Air taxis will help solve some of the traffic problems that cities face by using airspace as the “third dimension”.

Newly developed, environmentally friendly electric propulsion systems, powerful batteries featuring short charging times, minimal space requirements for take-off and landing, fast computers, and big data create the necessary conditions to practically tackle urban air mobility concepts within and between cities. In addition to transporting people and goods, autonomous aircraft can be used for a wide range of other purposes, such as the transport of urgent emergency goods or high-risk operations by air in the event of environmental disasters.

“This road show through selected Austrian SES centers will draw attention to the topic of “Urban Air Mobility”. Thanks to the significant footfall that prevails across the shopping centers, we will be able to reach a wide audience,” added Andreas Perotti, Director Marketing & Corporate Communication FACC.

From Ried to the Wider World

The air taxi is set to tour other SES centers in spring 2020. Stops will be also be made at Europark Salzburg, Sillpark Innsbruck and Huma Eleven Vienna. The exhibit will be presented in a glass showcase throughout the course of the exhibition period. On selected days, the air taxi will offer a “live experience”: seat testing, photo opportunities, and additional exhibition information will allow visitors to immerse themselves in the world of urban mobility.