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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article26 June 2018

First cities to join the Urban Air Mobility initiative

Only one month after Geneva committed to becoming the first city to join the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Initiative, the cities of Hamburg, Ghent and Ingolstad have also joined the initiative. UAM aims to develop the market for this new dimension in urban mobility, which could help address unmet mobility user needs and offer new opportunities for European companies.

Drones and U-space services have the potential to create fast evolving investment opportunities for European companies and civil drones could help to address mobility needs such as emergency transport and ease traffic congestion. Delivering services in urban areas, collection of data for a wide range of industries, infrastructure inspections, precision agriculture, transportation and logistics are just some of the possible applications of this technology. The drone services market is expected to grow substantially. Estimates vary between €10bn by 2035 and €127bn for the coming years

The UAM Initiative, which is part of the European Innovation Partnership in Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC), aims to brings together cities, residents, businesses and other stakeholders in order to study, showcase, support and where possible replicate the implementation of new mobility solutions.

The Initiative is supported by the European Commission because it scales up investment in demonstrators and the future establishment of a European U-Space Demonstrator Network. Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "Drones offer exciting opportunities for new services and business models, particularly in our cities. At the same time we need to ensure that drones operations taking place above our heads are safe, secure, quiet and clean. In that regard, the Urban Air mobility initiative is an important demonstration project involving several European cities to address these challenges and plan for the future. It will also contribute to the EU's U-Space, which is a flagship project of the European Union to manage air traffic at low level."

The coming months will see the development of drone and U-space service solutions under the umbrella of the UAM Initiative.

On 30 May 30 the Canton of Geneva was the first to join the UAM, agreeing to carry out a feasibility study into using drone taxis for personal transportation. The Geneva government will consider the study’s findings in the first quarter of 2019 and if the results are positive the first air vehicles could be trialled by the end of 2020. “This project is a first step towards implementing the canton of Geneva drone vision published in November 2017,” said cantonal and city government minister Pierre Maudet.

Just a week later, the city of Hamburg was also welcomed to the Initiative as an official demonstrator region for the implementation of civilian usage of drone and other urban air mobility technologies. In close cooperation with industry, universities, authorities and the public, feasibility studies for the systematic deployment of air mobility solutions in Hamburg's urban areas will be developed. Targeted solutions will explore, for example, the time-sensitive transport of medical goods or the inspection and maintenance of large infrastructure facilities such as port bridges and wind turbines.

Last week, saw two more additions to the UAM Initiative, with the Region of Ingolstadt and the city of Ghent signing Manifestos of Intent to study the feasibility of drone applications on 19 and 21 June 2018, respectively.

The city of Ghent will facilitate feasibility studies for developing a prototype 'ambulance drone' application. The use of an 'ambulance drone' with built-in defibrillator, medical 'toolbox' and camera would result in considerable time savings in provision of emergency medical services.

The city of Ingolstadt, together with federal and state governments, industrial and research parties public and private partners from the region, will be is actively engaging to define an innovative urban mobility model featuring a diversity of air taxi applications and operations. Air taxis and their benefits to citizens will be evaluated in the areas of passenger transport, rescue services and public security.

All four cities and regions that have now joined the UAM will now be working to further develop their demonstration projects in further detail until the first quarter of 2019. The actual demonstration projects should be implemented and assessed throughout the course of 2019, whereas the first UAM Initiative Dissemination Events are planned for the first quarter of 2020.

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Publication date
26 June 2018
Collective passenger transportPolicy and researchUrban mobility planning