Acceptance is key to expanding the drone market – Six cities take the lead in measuring public attitudes

Getting to know citizens' attitudes is crucial for drone market growth. Public acceptance surveys funded by the European Union are underway in Helsinki, Hamburg, Stockholm, Tartu, Gdansk, and Vilnius.

Drones are becoming increasingly common and forming a new field of transportation called Urban Air Mobility (UAM). It is a fast-growing business full of possibilities: systems for passengers, cargo and delivery, monitoring and emergency response solutions within urban settings, to name a few. Already, it is redefining the way goods move within cities and how public services are implemented. In Finland alone, the potential service market in 2030 is estimated to be 20–80 million euros, with an even larger international market potential.

In the Baltic Sea Region, six countries aim to develop their UAM ecosystem over the coming years. With the EU-funded project, CITYAM, they are seeking innovative and responsible ways to incorporate drone flights smoothly into infrastructure and everyday life. This project only concerns use cases for local public authorities. This innovation holds the promise of providing time savings, efficiency improvements and cost reductions.

Public acceptance is a key to growth
Acceptance of citizens is essential for integrating any technology into daily life. Therefore, Helsinki, Stockholm, Hamburg, Tartu, Riga, and Gdansk are measuring public attitudes towards UAM. Social acceptance of drones and other UAM technologies will determine community support for integrating aerial vehicles into cities and transportation systems.The results of the surveys will be used in the cities to shape their UAM policies.

“Surveys help not only the City but also companies to assess what kinds of drone services are worth implementing. Residents’ acceptance of the technology is crucial for a successful business,” says Business Helsinki’s Team Manager of Innovation Services Kimmo Heinonen.

“In order for this growth to be realised, the needs and concerns of city residents must be taken seriously,” Heinonen continues.

The acceptance survey gauges attitudes towards UAM technologies, considering factors such as environmental impact, safety, privacy, visual and noise pollution, trust in technology and authorities, and perceived benefits. This data will allow officials to measure social acceptance, evaluate general UAM acceptance, and assess the acceptability of specific drone service use cases. Responses collected by the beginning of May 2024 will be analysed, and the results published after summer.

CITYAM – empowering responsible urban air mobility
The acceptance survey is one of the building blocks of the CITYAM project and was developed by Tallinn University of Technology in cooperation with all thirteen project partners. It is being rolled out in spring 2024, with a second rollout planned in the Autumn. Other focus areas of CITYAM are landing site location planning, UAM strategy development and the piloting of a wide variety of drone use cases by local public authorities.

Foto: Vesa Laitinen / Forum Virium Helsinki

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