ERTICO is glad to be partnering with Amsterdam Drone Week. In this interview, ERTICO’s Director of Innovation and Deployment Johanna Tzanidaki answers some questions about what the public-private partnership of 120 companies and organisations representing service providers, suppliers, traffic and transport industry, research, public authorities, user organisations, mobile network operators, and vehicle manufacturers can do to keep Europe at the forefront of 3D mobility.
ERTICO was created 28 years ago by the European Commission to bring together stakeholders in five different sectors to see how quick Europe could make the mobility sector smarter, cleaner and safer. In the beginning the focus was very much about traffic management, safety systems and communication systems. ERTICO was very much involved in the digitalisation of mobility, like eCall for instance. In the last years the public-private partnership of 120 members sees that mobility is more and more data driven and connected.
How would you describe ERTICO’s role for the future?
“In the future we will focus less and less on vehicles alone. Most of the work around mobility in terms of safety, communication and efficiency has been done in the past 30 years. Now we need to work on the biggest picture of the mobility system and look beyond just road transport. We need to look at air transport, marine, connections between sea and hinterland and the connection between air and ground. So we need to engage more and more stakeholders in this work.”
The future of integrated mobility (underground, on the ground and above the ground) is quite challenging to say the least. Much is already technically possible, but how do you ensure that legislation remains in line with technological developments?
“A key aspect for much of the work we do is advising national authorities on public policy. When it comes to new technology you have to have authorities on board. 3D-mobility is a challenge because it was not included in the way we were thinking about regulations and mobility 30 years ago. It has also been the case when we started the discussion on new mobility services such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS). MaaS is very much about using mobility systems in a new way to deliver services to users. The integration of 3D Mobility would also be based on what kind of services we foresee in this field. And then, re-regulation when it comes to safety, security and all the other challenges that air mobility is faced with when it forms part of the integrated transport system.
We work closely with the authorities within our membership and the European Commission. What we see is that cities and national authorities come to us and ask ‘can you give us some examples of good practices?’ of ‘do we have to develop legislation from scratch or can you support us?’ At ERTICO we support the Commission to take an active role and not let each city or each Member State having to deal with these challenges from scratch or on their own.”
Integrated mobility requires a completely different way of urban planning. Some choices exclude certain forms of transport. How do you keep all options open?
“We always keep a lot of options open being at the forefront of innovation. The case of 3D mobility is a huge challenge. Not only do we have to react to rapidly moving technology but also support the development of new services that 3D mobility brings along.
For urban planning we have to find ways to help cities to embrace the whole sharing of the mobility concept that we have today. European citizens are keen on having access to mobility services instead of owning their own means of transport. For that you need to facilitate people by means of urban planning through regulations so that you allow these new services to come to the market. What we are striving for is making cities more liveable and sustainable. And we try to solve some of the problems that are related to the growth in mobility in general. Our goal is making mobility safer, cleaner and more efficient. We don’t want to disrupt the mobility sector but create a better one for all.”
And how do you ensure that society can keep up with the rapid pace of all changes?
“Of course more and more is possible. The big tech companies promise us a great future full of drones delivering all kinds of goods. But we also look at the sustainability of future cities and we listen closely to what citizens want. Do they want to live in a city where the air is constantly filled with drones? And what does that mean for safety? Society can only keep up if changes in technology (and mobility services) answer the needs of citizens and respect their concerns. Safety, of course, is an absolute priority”.
Are there regions in the world that lead the way? And are those regions where we as Europe can take an example? Or is it important that Europe chooses its own route?
“We hope that we as Europe lead the way and I think that we do. We have a close collaboration with other parts of the world. Some regions in the world can benefit from huge investments in 3D mobility but in terms of legislation and making it real I believe that Europe is at the forefront. We tend to believe that the US, China or Japan have more advanced technology, but we are actually the ones that not only develop technology but also look at the legislation side so that we can actually deploy solutions for the entire world and not just for one region or area. That’s why we need standardisation and regulation to work. Interoperability in mobility services is of paramount importance”.
To which questions do you hope to find answers during Amsterdam Drone Week?
“We see more and more use cases and see the potential of 3D mobility. At the same time we see challenges. Raising user awareness for example. We need to show and demonstrate all these new forms of transport. But also cyber security, safety issues, planning issues, what about traffic management? We really need more knowledge and the Amsterdam Drone Week is a perfect place to find that knowledge. At the same time, a number of debates and sessions are going on and this gives the opportunity for stakeholders to exchange ideas and learn from each other.”
One of ERTICO’s members is the city of Toulouse. We asked Rohit Kumar,Head of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) of the French Metropole what he believes Urban Air Mobility is about.
Mr. Kumar: “People are unable to differentiate between drone/air-taxi application and urban air mobility. Drone/air-taxi application is completing a task by using a drone/air-taxi with the support of some technology (mostly U-Space) whereas UAM is about integrating the new mode of mobility inside the existing ecosystem (ground mobility ecosystem). UAM can’t directly be tested and deployed inside the city but it needs to be tested in the multi-modality demo ecosystem which includes drone/air taxi, u-space, ground & air infrastructure, cybersecurity, citizen involvement, ground mobility system, future energy, regulators intervention & local authority decision.”