Trying to See the Future from the 57th Floor

Photo provided by Singapore Tourism Board (
Flying 20 hours from my home in Phoenix, Arizona, to Singapore, I had a lot of time to think about advanced air mobility – the small, electric, vertical take-off and landing aircraft made of super light materials set to revolutionize the way people move above the planet. Sure, I think about how advanced air mobility (AAM) will save time whisking me across town and the thrill of flying on the next generation aircraft. I mean, it’s truly awe-inspiring that we may be able to overcome boundaries of space and time with accessible air travel.

What fascinates me most as an engineer with decades of aviation experience, is planning and executing on how that reality will take shape. What insights could I derive by flying 20 hours halfway around the world? I was not disappointed.

The Global Urban & Advanced Air Summit Asia 2023 took place in the stunning Marina Bay Sands complex. It was organized by Farnborough International and held in Singapore for the first time. The hotel’s 57th floor infinity pool stretched across three massive towers offering stunning views. All the better to try to catch a glimpse of the future maybe!
The conference sessions were jam-packed with rich content from speakers, presenters, panelists, and moderators. They shared insights that were sometimes new to me, reinforced trends I had previously identified, but overall made clear that creating a new future is exciting and a breath-taking business.

My presentation outlined how Daedalean’s AI-enabled Situational Intelligence will allow autonomous flight to bring down cost, increase safety, and maximize fleet management. In other words, autonomy is how we create the new world of accessible air travel. I offered a vision of the future in which Situational Intelligence is implemented over many years and across ascending levels of autonomy from helping pilots today to offering the capability for full autonomy in the next decades.
A few of my takeaways from others:

  • For the first time in history we are moving aviation from the airport into the urban landscape. Of course this is obvious but considered from the practical and regulatory perspective, it’s an awesome undertaking. Aircraft existing today will not suddenly disappear in the future. Airliners will continue to take off from airports and helicopters will continue to be the Swiss Army Knives of the sky. So the question is how new aircraft–which will land and take-off in neighborhoods and downtowns will exist in the same skies as traditional air traffic.
  • Increasing urbanization is one of the key drivers for AAM demand. In fact, in the urban context, AAM is often labeled using the term Urban Air Mobility since images of flying taxis have caught fire in the public’s imagination more than any other use case. (Many, many uses for AAM will exist, which I will explore in future posts.)
  • It’s a sobering realization to note that previous periods of accelerated innovation in aviation were driven by war. It’s even more sobering to realize the current one is driven, in large part, by an even graver existential threat: climate change. We are in the midst of an accelerated period of innovation in aviation thay may need to accelerate even more.
  • Regulators encouraged industry to engage with them as they are often criticized for being slow and prescriptive. For our part, Daedalean has partnered with the world’s two leading regulators–the FAA in the United States and EASA in Europe–to help them create ways of understanding and assessing bleeding-edge technology such as our AI-enabled Situational Intelligence, which is the ability for a computer to understand and make sense of the current environment and situation and also anticipate and react to future situations including a future problem. Situational Intelligence described capabilities that today are reserved only to humans – capabilities that Daedalean is building into machines.
  • Discussing where AAM will take hold first, I needed to look no further than that view from the 57th floor to recognize Singapore’s urban density and heavily restricted airspace make it a perfect location for a proof of concept.
Photo courtesy of Marina Bay Sands (
Gazing onto the world across an infinity pool suspended in the heavens, I couldn’t help but take on a certain large-scale perspective both for the future and past. After all, infinity stretches in both directions! I thought about how far I had come–thousands of miles and decades of life–to arrive here. As a child, I would not have been able to conceive of such a journey. But it was not nonstop. A decade ago, I actually spent several months in Singapore doing research toward my PhD while pregnant with my first child. That was a pivotal moment between a challenging childhood and the challenges of becoming, despite the odds, a leader in an industry creating a radically new future. The resilience I developed in the first half of my life growing up as a financially-disadvantaged, African American woman made all the difference in making me who I became today. It’s a story I’ll be telling more fully another time.

At the moment, I am excited to gaze into the future from the 57th floor, preparing to yet again take-off on another 20 hour flight to discover new insights, spread the gospel of Daedalean’s vision and to look for ways to overcome boundaries of space and time.