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  • Writer's pictureImAFUSA

Social acceptance of drones – The mission of the ImAFUSA Project

Drones are here to stay

Drones (or better UAVs, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and eVTOLs (larger aircraft designed for carrying passengers or cargo) are here to stay. The concept of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) has started to find its place in our everyday vocabulary, describing a new type of air traffic, at scale, at very low altitudes above-populated areas, that will cover a wide diversity of potential urban air services. This is a common ascertainment if you have a look into the latest developments in the field or you are just attending a wedding and drones fly constantly above you taking pictures and videos!

In the service of society

Of course, nowadays, except cinematography, drones are used for a wide range of more crucial functions, like monitoring climate change, delivering goods and medical equipment, aiding in search and rescue operations, scientific exploration, 3-D mapping, logistics and delivery services, wildlife protection, and agriculture. And the list goes on. Drones have been extremely useful in areas such as infrastructure maintenance, archaeology, speleology, biology, meteorology, and space exploration! What’s more, numerous ongoing pilot projects, on their potential for medical cases (e.g. emergency interventions with defibrillators, human organs transfer between hospitals) and agricultural activities (e.g. viticulture, olive trees) have taken place in various European-funded projects.

What about social acceptance?

Nevertheless, all the above-mentioned services are underlined and affected by a common factor: social acceptance. In turn, social acceptance is influenced by 3 major areas: the environmental impact on society, which includes, noise, visual pollution, and air quality, the safety factor, and the socioeconomic impact which includes, affordability, accessibility, economic development, public space use, and connectivity.

ImAFUSA’s crucial role

In this regard, our fresh new project ImAFUSA comes in. ImAFUSA is a European project, funded by Horizon and SESAR 3 JU that focuses on evaluating factors that influence citizens’ acceptance of Urban Air Mobility (UAM). The project goal is to deliver a framework that will help Local Authorities and other U-space stakeholders and users with the delivery of socially acceptable and beneficial UAM deployment in cities. In other words, ImAFUSA will try to explain in simple words why drones can become beneficial for our everyday lives in environmental terms as well. It will try to fill the gap into what actually affects people in their stance towards the use of drones in cities, and what could make them more confident to embrace the offered services in hand. Lastly, it will offer local decision-makers the tools and methods to assess the impact of UAM in their regions and their associated U-space capacity.

How will ImAFUSA succeed?

In order to succeed, ImAFUSA will deliver at least 3 demonstration case studies, to be carried out in 3 different urban areas, in which citizens will be exposed to real-time UAM demonstrations. Citizens will provide feedback on noise safety and visual pollution through the use of the storytelling technique.

ImAFUSA will use an explanatory approach to explore and define social acceptance and UAM impacts. Then explorative research will be applied to collect information and data through surveys, interviews, focus groups, and workshops and analyse it with qualitative methods and quantitative methods in order to provide thick explanations and contribute to raising new hypotheses in UAM analysis, deployment planning, and assessment.

What’s more, synergies with the city of Aachen will take place for best practices in citizen workshops for UAM. Last but not least, the project will build common UAM campaigns together with other related European projects to have a greater impact.

The motto of this project is: “We did it “wrong” with cars, we did it “wrong” with planes, let’s do it “right” with drones”! Let’s join forces to do it “right” this time!

Thank you for reading!


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