Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is a new way of urban transportation that involves moving people and goods by air in an urban environment. Vera Safronova, a junior researcher at LDE Centre for BOLD cities, carried out a research project to investigate the social aspects of urban air mobility under the supervision of prof. dr. Liesbet van Zoonen and practitioners from Airbus, the City of Rotterdam and D66.
Following a systematic literature review of 22.000 academic publications about drones and UAM. The analysis showed that much of the literature focused on investigating the different technical aspects of UAM and drones such as the aerodynamics of vehicles, their battery levels and so on. However, very little attention is given to the social side of transition to UAM for example how the public might react to UAM and what their expectations are.
With this knowledge Vera went to Amsterdam Drone Week where she observed industry professionals. This conference confirmed that the industry professionals also do not take social acceptance of UAM into account. Safronova then developed a framework to connect the most common technology acceptance factors to UAM. These factors also included less quantifiable factors such as trust, participation and the nature of communal relations and their relation to the acceptability of UAM.
Vera tested this framework through speculative interviews with the residents and visitors of Kinderdijk, an area where drones are commonly used. The interviews showed that citizens are not ready to embrace the societal changes that UAM might bring, however, the public and private sector do not investigate this worrying dynamic much. For more information about this project please reach out to Vera Safronova (firstname.lastname@example.org).