The AiRMOUR project conducted the most comprehensive survey of citizens' and stakeholders' involvement in urban air mobility (UAM) and drones in Europe since the May 2021 EASA survey. More than 1100 citizens from across six countries involved in the AiRMOUR project participated in the survey: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Luxemburg and the Netherlands. The questions covered topics such as safety and risk, privacy, environment, socio-economic impact and public acceptance of different use cases of emergency medical services and really interesting conclusions resulted from that.
A lot of citizens have little knowledge when it comes to the topic of UAM or have limited knowledge on the subject according to the survey. What is interesting is that these people also have no opinion on the topic which reflects this lack of knowledge. To solve this problem we should engage the public with drone testing and come up with a dedicated citizen engagement strategy. The citizens play a more active role in this way and are able to form a clear and construct decision about what they think about drones.
According to the technical stakeholders, the regulations play the biggest limiting factor in the advancement of UAM. There is a really huge demand for an easier process to enable test flights for drones and certification of drone operators that should be mandatory. This makes it difficult for technical stakeholders to engage the public enough.
The survey also revealed that acceptable use cases for the public are about infrastructure preservation, land or building surveying and environmental monitoring. Cases that don’t have much urgency are considered less acceptable than the urgent cases. For instance, transporting a first aid kit to a scene of an incident was considered more acceptable than a regular mission like delivering pharmacy products. Social inequalities are a major concern for civilians when delivery drones and passenger eVTOLS are introduced into airspace.
Main differences between stakeholders and citizens
Compared to citizens, stakeholders are more accepting of both delivery drones and passenger eVTOLS for medical and non-medical purposes. They also have a clearer decision whether to accept delivery drones and passenger eVTOLS. This is of course a expected finding since they know a lot more about UAM then normal citizens that have barely any knowledge. They also find the medical purpose more acceptable than for non-medical purposes. The stakeholders thought safety, privacy and noise would be the most concerning for the public related to delivery drones and passenger eVTOLS. However, they did not identify social inequality as a concern for the public.
Suggestions to improve public acceptance of UAM among citizens
A frequently asked question that comes to mind by stakeholders is: How to increase public acceptance of urban air mobility? Technical stakeholders suggest that the public needs transparent and factual information about the capabilities of UAM from a technical point of view. People tend to rely on online searches and these often do not lead to the most factual information. And that's a shame, because UAM contributes to very important developments.
They also give an advice which is that if they increase the number of flight demonstrations and involve the public it will contribute enormously to engaging citizens. Also, safe and secure operations matter and information about what those entail are important. Articles on the latest developments on unmanned aircraft spread across magazines could be really important to inform the public and take away this knowledge gap. The press should also be better educated because they play a big role when it comes to influencing the public about their adoption levels.
Learn more about the study here.
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