On 21 March 2022, representatives of Flying Forward 2020 (FF2020), AiRMOUR, AURORA, LABYRINTH and RAPID, all EU-funded projects under the Horizon 2020 umbrella, were part of the panel on the stage of this year's edition of Amsterdam Drone Week. The speakers discussed "The Opportunities and Challenges of Urban Air Mobility in Cities" and the role cities should have in implementing this new mobility mode based on the knowledge and results gathered from the projects' use cases in various European cities.
The panel included Arthur Dallau, FF2020's Impact Coordinator and CEO of INSPIR8ION, Patrick van Egmond, Chief Executive Officer of LuxMobility, AiRMOUR, Silvio Semanjski, Project Coordinator of AURORA, James Riordan, Associate Professor in Robotics & Autonomous Vehicles at the University of the West Scotland, RAPID, Henk Hesselink, Business Manager Drones at German Aerospace Center (DLR), LABYRINTH. Rounding up the panel was Renske Martijnse-Hartikka, Project Manager of the AiRMOUR project, who expertly moderated the session.
As well as presenting each project's focus in the field of UAM, the panellists discussed the potential benefits to society from each project's use cases, perspectives and knowledge, such as emergency drones to support during emergency cases, weather forecasting and monitoring, maintenance inspections of infrastructures, to name just a few.
Because of all the potential benefits, cities currently face high expectations but are equipped with insufficient resources as they prepare to integrate UAM. Navigating the opportunities and challenges remains complex when the business case for cities is still being defined, and city officials' understanding of this new transport method remains limited.
During the discussion of the role of cities, it became clear that public understanding and support of Urban Air Mobility certainly should get higher priority. To achieve embracement, cities must proactively engage with key stakeholders so they can witness use cases first-hand to boost knowledge and understanding of this new form of mobility and its benefits to society. This will help ensure safety and trust, attain backing from decision-makers, improve economic value, and achieve environmental goals.
Additionally, cities should become involved in the governance aspect of Urban Air Mobility, as there is a need for dialogue and collaboration between stakeholders to ensure that the regulatory framework remains relevant and effective. As technology develops and more cities implement urban air mobility solutions, governance will play a critical role in shaping the future of urban transport.
Another point was raised about cities perhaps taking a more prominent role in drone operations to steer the development of UAM and guarantee that these systems are used to benefit the community while minimising risks and addressing concerns.
All in all, this well-rounded panel touched upon valid topics that cities looking to integrate this new mobility mode are now faced with and brought their unique perspectives from their experiences with UAM. All the valuable knowledge and results gathered by these projects will be shared at the end of the year, with the aim of supporting cities in successfully deploying Urban Air Mobility.