With the Game of Drones show in Enschede at the end of August, an important step was taken in U-space to further pave the way towards safe and responsible integration of drones in the airspace. Mayor of Enschede Onno van Veldhuizen was present at the test and explains why the city in the eastern Netherlands wants to play a pioneering role in Urban Air Mobility.
"Enschede made a huge claim a few years ago by claiming that we are the European drone capital," says Van Veldhuizen. “There wasn't much back then. And today there is a whole cluster of companies working on drone technology here at the former airbase. We encourage this because I believe that we must take the lead in Europe. It is an industry with enormous potential. And if you don't do things well, then it won't fly well. With all the regulations and dilemmas surrounding drones, we as a city have to take on a leading role. Especially since we already have so much technology that fits very well with it. ”
Due to the presence of the drone biotope, there are already a number of concrete projects in which Enschede is at the forefront. For example, a drone detection system has recently been installed on the highest tower in Enschede, the 101-meter-high Alpha Tower. Van Veldhuizen: “This allows us to be the first city in the Netherlands to scan the airspace and see what drone activity is taking place. In addition, we are working with the fire brigade to deploy drones to combat fires. And we also do tests with the security of business parks and in the area of first response. We are constantly trying to push the boundaries of what is possible and allowed, and thus to press the future into the present.”
Van Veldhuizen is proud that so much is happening in and around Enschede. And he believes that it is also necessary. “The hobby drone is the most popular Christmas gift worldwide. So there are so many of them. And if we do not properly arrange this, then the professional market will not get off the ground because the discussion about safety then becomes dominant. As an industry, we must stay ahead of that discussion by doing it together smartly and well. In ten years everything will be different again. Then you have swarms of drones, autonomous flying drones, goods and passenger transport and a lot of data collection. That all flies in public space and so we as the government have to think something about it. It is our society and that is why we have to come up with a concept of how those drones can make sense in it. And then I would much rather have an European model in place than an American or a Chinese model. Because I don't believe in the last two."
Amsterdam Drone Week
City of Enschede is one of the 43 demonstrator cities of the SCC-EIP-UAM Initiative. During Amsterdam Drone Week, 4 – 6 December in RAI Amsterdam, the Second UAM Initiative Cities Community Forum will be held.