Defining the Future of Urban Air Mobility

Futuristic drone flying over city

The Dutch Drone Delta – founded by AirHub and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines – brings together key players to enable the full potential of drones and Urban Air Mobility in The Netherlands.

04-12-2019 Amsterdam Drone Week – #RAI Amsterdam

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) increasingly start to impact our lives. Today #drones are already used in various industries such as #inspection, #agriculture and #construction. Within the next decade we will also see the use of drones for package #delivery and even for the transportation of freight and humans – Urban Air Mobility.

“Drones overall will be more impactful than I think people recognize, in positive ways to help society.” – Bill Gates

In early 2019 KLM joined forces with AirHub to look at the possibilities of transferring passengers from #Schiphol Airport to their final destination with electric unmanned aircraft (#eVTOL). To realize these ambitious plans and to create sustainable social, economic and environmental impact with drones, a comprehensive roadmap was created and an ecosystem of partners was developed.

Dutch Drone Delta

With this roadmap the partners within the ecosystem want to close the gap between present-day – mostly manually piloted – Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) operations and Urban Air Mobility (#UAM). Therefore AirHub included 5 tracks in the roadmap that focus on social embracement, autonomous long distance flights, Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM), drone delivery and Urban Air Mobility. In each track the partners will implement various concrete use cases, such as surveying flights by #Rijkswaterstaat within the Port of Rotterdam (Rotterdam CTR) with a focus on social impact, legal possibilities, technical challenges and economic effects within these use cases.

Track 1: Social Embracement

The fact that drones can provide a lot of economic benefits does not mean that they will automatically be embraced by our society. Especially when working towards package delivery and the transportation of cargo and humans in urban environments there will be many factors that will have to be taken into account (e.g. #noise and #privacy). It is therefore of great importance that the social dialogue will be started as early as possible in this process.

Together with other partners such at the City of Amsterdam and the Dutch government the Dutch Drone Delta ecosystem will work on the social embracement of drones to create not only sustainable economic impact, but social and environmental impact as well.

Track 2: Autonomous Long Distance Flights

The first technical step on the path to Urban Air Mobility is the realization of autonomous long distance (beyond visual line of sight, #BVLOS) flights. Today both regulatory and technical hurdles exist that need to be overcome. To gain thrust from both legislators, society and end users a lot of experimentation and test have to be conducted, both on the required #hardware and #software.

Together with partners the Dutch Drone Delta ecosystem will work on improving the techniques required for the realization of #autonomous long distance flights whilst keeping in mind social, legal, environmental and commercial requirements.

Track 3: U-Space & Unmanned Traffic Management

Today the biggest part of aviation takes place at relatively high altitudes. Only near aerodromes there is a real interaction between the sky and the surface we live on. With the introduction of drones into our low level airspace this will change. Drones will have to interact with the 4D world we live in and should be able to deal with #buildings, #weather, temporary obstacles and #airspace closures.

U-Space or Unmanned Traffic Management (#UTM) will provide the answer for many of these challenges. The Dutch Drone Delta ecosystem will work on the Dutch implementation of U- Space/UTM by Air Traffic Control The Netherlands (#LVNL) and other airspace administrators such as the municipality of Enschede (#Space53). Crucial network solutions, such as #5G will be provided by #KPN to facilitate these services.

Track 4: Drone Delivery

Delivery of high value, high priority packages, such as blood samples or automated external defibrillators (#AED), in urban areas will be the first kind of aerial mobility in our cities. To realize this step many technological innovations will be necessary, both on the techniques of the aircraft, payload and sensors but on the infrastructure of cities as well. Furthermore #insurance will play an important role in these kinds of operations, the Dutch Drone Delta ecosystem will be supported in this by our partners a.s.r. verzekeringen and Achmea.

It is expected that unmanned aircrafts for delivery will first only fly on predetermined routes between two points, so corridors in the sky will have to be created. The ecosystem will work together with the (local) government(s) and partners to create the necessary techniques and infrastructure to facilitate this.

Track 5: Urban Air Mobility

The realization of transport of cargo and passengers by electric unmanned aerial vehicles will be the point on the horizon for the Dutch Drone Delta ecosystem. It will be the end of a long series of steps that will prove that this new form of air-modality is safe, economically viable and socially desirable.

Unmanned cargo and passenger aircraft will be one of the solutions to the problems we face today with congestion and pollution in our cities and on our roads. It will give us a safer, faster and more efficient form of transport that will provide both large social and economic benefits to The Netherlands. In this track the Dutch Drone Delta ecosystem will work on the basic foundations that are necessary for UAM such as, skyports, charging infrastructure and integration into existing mobility flows. Partners such as #Antea Group and Royal #NLR will provide support the ecosystem in this with their extensive knowledge and experience.

About AirHub: Our mission at AirHub is to safely, legally and efficiently integrate drones into our society. We facilitate this by helping companies with setting up their drone operation and advising governments and public organisations about their drone and UAM policies. With the AirHub Drone Operations App and our Drone Operations Center (including our #SORA tool) we enable drone operators to plan, fly and log their drone missions.

AirHub will, together with #Connekt, provide the daily project management of the Dutch Drone Delta ecosystem. Contact us at for more information.

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