On 22 March, our colleague Wandi Chivaura represented the European Passengers’ Federation and the AURORA project at the Amsterdam Drone Week, where she participated in a panel discussion on “What’s on the horizon for UAM in the European landscape”. The discussion which was organised by EIT Urban Mobility, saw the gathering of professionals in the UAM domain including Dominique Lazarski (President at Union Européenne Contre les Nuisances Aériennes), Inigo Ezquerra (R&D Director of Aeronautics, Space and Defence at Capgemini Engineering), Arnaud Rimokh (Director of Drones at Aerospace Valley) and Raul Feliu (Impact Ventures -Programmes Manager, EIT Urban Mobility). The main topic of the panel was how to seize opportunities and tackle challenges in the UAM landscape.

Wandi shared her insights on the potential of UAM to revolutionise transportation in cities, as well as challenges that must be addressed to make this vision a reality, building also upon the knowledge gained through EPF’s participation in the EU-funded project AURORA, where EPF is responsible for stakeholder and citizen engagement related activities. She reiterated that it is important to note that UAM is still a developing technology and there are challenges that need to be overcome, including issues like safety, infrastructure, affordability, accessibility, and public acceptance. Additionally, Wandi highlighted that “it is crucial to always involve end-users and stakeholders in all stages of development because a technological push without tangible benefits for citizens and society is futile”.

When asked about the steps needed to make the future of mobility with flying drones accepted by the public, Wandi highlighted that before going straight into details about how new technology systems can be integrated and accepted by citizens, it is crucial to pause and ask ourselves “what’s in it for the passenger and for the society?”. She added that in order for the public to be more accepting to UAM, it is important to put them at the centre when new mobility services are being developed because:

  • End-users give excellent input to validate and/or steer the results of research and development
  • A user-centric approach can help foster adoption and acceptance of new mobility services
  • It gives the end users the chance to customize the product according to their needs

However, she added that “it is also important to note that if the service answers to citizens and societies needs, then there is no need to push for acceptance because society will accept something that is useful to them”.