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  • Writer's pictureImAFUSA

Smart Cities in the Nordic – Urban Air Mobilty Projects in Sweden

When asked about Sweden, most people would think about untouched nature, high quality of living, a good balance between work and personal life… and of course IKEA and ABBA! Sweden is also famous in its own right in air transport with a long history of operations in challenging conditions such as extreme cold weather in the arctic winter. Sweden is also unfortunately famous as it has coined the word Flygskam, or flight shaming, to encourage people not to fly due to environmental and sustainability reasons. So, what can a country that seemingly is flight-averse contribute to advanced and urban air mobility? Well… a lot, as it seems.

Kista Science City, in Stockholm, hosts one of Sweden’s largest knowledge clusters when it comes to new mobility and is working closely with government and local agencies, start-ups, and commercial partners in the fast-growing drone and urban air mobility economy.

Drone Delivery in the Stockholm Archipelago

Aerit is a start-up launched in 2020 via the pre-incubator program at Kungliga Tekniska Hoeggskolan (KTH) Innovation – our partner at the ImAFUSA project- and since then it has gone from strength to strength to become the first company in Sweden to offer commercial drone delivery options.

Recently we had the opportunity to speak to Teo Rizvanovic, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of Aerit, Sweden’s first commercial last-mile drone delivery service on their journey towards establishing operations in Värmdö Municipality, Stockholm County. In this chat, KTH, our Sweden-based partner discussed their experience operating a drone delivery service from a societal acceptance point of view.

In their process, Aerit followed the regulations stipulated by EASA but also had to work very closely with Transportstyrelsen, Sweden’s national aviation authority, to ensure a safe and community-friendly integration of their service into the busy Stockholm archipelago airspace. “We have together with the help of Transportstyrelsen established a D-area of approximately 100 square kilometers, with an operation radius of 6km. As we are the first to undergo this process in Sweden, many new solutions and systems had to be implemented to ensure the existing manned aviation was not disturbed. This is not necessarily trivial but was enabled through Aerit’s long process of learning and iteratively increasing the complexity of our operations. We had to showcase operational maturity, develop and integrate novel safety systems, and work closely with stakeholders to ensure success.”

Teo Rizvanovic

Initially, the delegated airspace was a Restricted Area, requiring any other operator to consult Aerit directly for clearance into the airspace. As the company shares airspace with manned aviation, a concern was raised by Region Stockholm during the summer of 2023 about Aerit’s operation potentially causing delays for helicopter emergency services entering the area. Through cooperation with Transportstyrelsen, the airspace was converted into a Danger Area, which now allows operators to enter the airspace without requiring clearance. Additionally, the Aerit team integrated a digital transponder system into their fleet, which publishes relevant information to publicly available air traffic tools, as well as directly into the emergency helicopters' onboard systems. “We are actively working with stakeholders in the area to ensure we do not introduce any friction to their operations. We provide information such as operational schedules, traffic awareness, and ways to communicate with us on our website. Safety is and always has been a top priority for us and is critical for the longevity of Aerit”, says Teo.

Due to the geographical topology of Värmdö, the area is subject to significant air traffic by helicopters and seaplanes. The population of Värmdö is accustomed to the sound of aviation. Teo states “…noise was never an issue as we operate a light vehicle. The sound power level is around 54dB when we cruise and coupled with a very low frequency profile it blends well into the background noise of the area. The flights we conduct are short and fast, directed over unpopulated areas - so we are only seen for very short periods near homes and the general population. It is a large area that we service with only a few drones, so it is quite rare to spot Nimbi unless you’ve ordered something through us.”

The citizens of Värmdö have been positive to the introduction of the aerial logistics system. “People find it very exciting a service like this is being pioneered in their neighbourhoods. They often ask how they can sign up and try it. We focus on being friendly and inviting, as it is of high importance to us to ensure we leave a good impression for not only us but the drone industry at large. As for negative opinions so far we have not had many significant complaints and the issues we’ve seen people bring up have come from a lack of information. We try to actively engage with the community on social media and provide relevant information to ensure people are aware we take safety very seriously. The drone industry is in its early days and we are going through a familiarisation process so it is very important to take each step responsively.”

Aerit’s system delivers parcels to their customers' backyards, where the package is automatically left on the ground for the recipient to pick up. The company promises their customers faster and environmentally friendly deliveries. Teo explains that the process of opening up the system to consumers has been a technical and operational challenge. “As a customer, you don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes. A robot just magically appears in the sky above your property and drops off your burger. Inside the organisation we’ve had to work unbelievably hard to ensure this transaction happens smoothly. There are so many lessons and issues you could never predict that become very obvious once you launch. What if the customer has a robot lawn mower coming straight for our package? How do we deal with having too many orders at once? How do we deliver a cappuccino or any liquid for that matter without any spill? There are so many operational issues that we’ve had to figure out as we’ve operated and they provide amazing insight and learning opportunities for us to apply as we scale.”

Despite these challenges, the response from customers has been positive. When asked how the customers have reacted to the service we get an insight into the numbers behind the business. “They have been very positive! The system is now in somewhat of a closed beta, where we have a small customer pool with only 2% of households signed up. So far we’ve seen an average daily utilisation of 2.4%, which is promising. Of course, some people order just for the novelty of it, or to impress friends, but many are returning customers who use the system as any delivery service which is exactly what we hoped for. What's cool is that some of our users have become champions of our company and share pictures and videos of their deliveries on social media. Super exciting for us.”


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