In the second phase of its mission to empower cities and regions in key mobility areas, the ERTICO City Moonshot is delving into two exciting new topics: Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and E-mobility. On 23 February, the team organised the webinar “City Moonshot: Navigating the Urban Skies” to showcase preliminary results on UAM and foster dialogue between cities, with interesting inputs from La Coruña, Hamburg, Madrid and the UK.

The urban mobility landscape is evolving rapidly. Integrating the air space into it offers exciting possibilities for transporting people and goods, complementing existing services. However, challenges exist. Safety, regulations, and public concerns demand careful consideration. Drones, for instance, have regulatory requirements, including the Drone Strategy 2.0 by the European Commission, requiring coordination and public consultations.

Vassilis Agouridas, leader of the Urban Air Mobility Initiative Cities Community (UCI2), moderated the discussion during the webinar, highlighting the crucial role of cities and regions in this new mobility setting. “They have the opportunity, and perhaps even the responsibility, to be part of this transformation, guided by the concept of multi-level governance, for which all the different stakeholders have to be involved”, argued Mr Agouridas. The UIC2 Manifesto on the Multilevel Governance of the Urban Sky emphasises that cities and regions should have a decisive voice in determining how UAM integrates with local needs.

Download UIC2’s presentation here

While cities prioritize clear policies to set up the ground for drones, the future envisions interconnected transportation ecosystems. Drones could seamlessly communicate with each other, the infrastructure, and even autonomous vehicles, enabling groundbreaking services like enhanced emergency response through “flying ambulances” and revolutionised delivery solutions. However, significant challenges remain, like creating unified systems to manage both ground and air traffic effectively. This requires collaboration between different stakeholders, including cities, developers, and regulatory bodies, to bridge the gap between isolated development and a truly integrated future.

Lidia Buenavida Peña, ERTICO Innovation and Deployment Manager and Coordinator of the City Moonshot initiative, shared some insights on the preliminary results of the interviews to cities and regions, concluding that while most cities haven’t implemented UAM yet, some have conducted trials, established policies, or completed feasibility studies. Medical purposes, particularly involving equipment and supplies, are seen as the most promising application. Other potential uses include logistics, like traffic monitoring and special case deliveries, and passenger transport, like city airport shuttles and commutes within a 100 km radius. However, safety, security, noise and air pollution, privacy, and contractual issues are major concerns for cities regarding UAM development. Additionally, cities mentioned congestion, potential criminal activity, lack of landing/take-off space, and impact on nature as emerging concerns. These key takeaways were supported by the feedback provided by the participating cities of La Coruña, Hamburg, and Madrid, who are members of UIC2 and actively engaged in City Moonshot.

Download Lidia’s presentation here

Exploring innovative approaches from pioneering cities

La Coruña, a port city located in Spain’s northwest, addresses unique mobility challenges caused by its complex urban geography while prioritising its green areas and pursuing its ambition to become a smart city. Within this context, La Coruña is embracing an early adopter spirit by joining forces with ITG, a technological powerhouse, to unlock the potential of UAM and explore the possibilities of air mobility as a complement to traditional transportation. Together, they are focusing on high-impact use cases like medical assistance and infrastructure inspection while actively involving the community through consultations and engagement. Additionally, through collaboration, they are building unique infrastructure like AI centres and testing grounds, fostering sustainable demand, and actively participating in R&D projects.

Download La Coruña’s presentation here

(Speakers: Enrique Ventas García, UAS R&D Manager at ITG – U-space and Marta Tojal Castro, R&D Project Manager at ITG)

In a presentation outlining Hamburg’s innovative approach to UAM, Franziska Biermann emphasised the city’s recognition of the distinct challenges the topic poses. Unlike traditional aircraft, drones operate in closer proximity to the ground, necessitating new regulations and strategies to ensure social acceptance. To address these challenges, Hamburg prioritises UAM applications offering clear public benefits, such as medical transportation and infrastructure inspections. They embarked on their UAM journey in 2017, establishing the Windrove network, a collaborative platform connecting industry, research, and citizens to foster the commercial use of drones in the region. Since then, they have carried out several projects aimed at shaping the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) system.

Download Hamburg’s presentation here

(Speaker: Franziska Biermann (Head of Cluster Policy Department at Authority for Economics and Innovation Hamburg City Council)

Madrid is actively shaping its future in UAM. Recognising the challenges of integrating drones into a densely populated city, they prioritise public acceptance through initiatives like the largest drone show in Spain and explore diverse UAM applications, including surveillance drones and pilot projects like GesDron (package delivery with 5G) and ALE-HOP (medical supply transport). The city council established the Urban Air Mobility Commission, which, along with pilot projects and collaboration with various stakeholders, aims to develop a comprehensive UAM strategy. With working groups focused on diverse aspects and EU funding opportunities, Madrid positions itself as a leader in responsible UAM development, balancing innovation with regulation and public engagement, while enhancing collaboration for the smooth integration of UAM within existing regulations.

Download Madrid’s presentation here

(Speaker: Pedro Fernández (Head of Department at the General Directorate of Mobility Planning and Infrastructure of Madrid)

Innovate UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is working to build the future aviation industry by fostering innovation, collaboration, and public engagement. Simon Masters presented their view of the national perspective on future aviation. Their focus lies on drones, exploring various applications like last-mile delivery, longer-range logistics, and medical use cases. They are also involved in researching regulations and safety aspects for drones. Additionally, they are investigating electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs) for passenger transport, as showcased by the award-winning project AIR-PORT. While their approach is national, they recognise the importance of learning from cities that have taken local approaches. They actively encourage collaboration between competitors, the government, and the public, believing that understanding and addressing public concerns is crucial for the successful development and integration of these new technologies.

Download UKRI’s presentation here

(Speaker: Simon Masters. Deputy Challenge Director – Future Flight at Innovate UK)

The 23 February webinar was an important part of the City Moonshot initiative’s mission to support innovation in cities’ mobility agenda by understanding their needs and challenges. Its  Phase I report gathered valuable insights on key mobility areas like Mobility as a Service (MaaS), sustainability and data sharing, collected through in-depth interviews. Its ultimate goal is to conduct such interviews with 300 cities and regions.

Watch the webinar here

To learn more about the ERTICO City Moonshot initiative, visit our website. If you are a city or region representative and would like to become part of our knowledge ecosystem, contact us:

Lidia Buenavida Peña:

Dimitrios Vovolis: