Transport Calls in Horizon 2020 – Towards Sustainable Urban Air Mobility

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Urban air mobility (UAM) is a field of disruptive innovation, not only for aviation but also for mobility systems and urban planning at large. At urban / suburban and peri-urban / inter-urban level, point-to-point air connection can help overcome the lack or congestion of surface transport, lighten and complement logistic chains whilst saving time and recurrent infrastructure costs.

The companies enabling urban air mobility and the cities and regions embracing it may develop competitive advantages, both in terms of manned/unmanned aircraft systems’ business and in terms of mobility services for people, emergency services and freight.

Innovation is at the core of the challenge to make urban air mobility not only safe, secure, quiet and green but also more accessible, faster, affordable, inclusive and publicly accepted. Research activities are not only aeronautical but also cross-disciplinary to enable aerial traffic in the urban environment. This will notably encompass more autonomous systems and efficient integration with urban infrastructure, with energy and communication networks and with other transport modes in a system-of-systems approach and in line with the Commission’s climate change Long Term Strategy.

Scope

Proposals should address novel concepts, technologies and solutions beyond the state-of-the-art. Proposals should address all the following three research areas:

A. Safety and security: particularly when operating over populated areas – including several aspects such as adverse weather and airflow conditions at low altitudes, human factors and automation, collision and avoidance; electro-magnetic compatibility; detection and surveillance of physical and cyber threats, prevention, preparedness, response and recovery from threats, including intentional interference and misuse of urban air mobility; and/or other relevant hazards and threats in a operation centric and risk-based approach.

B. Sustainability with regard to the overall environmental footprint (e.g. energy demand; local emissions and global greenhouse gas emissions); and sustainability with regard to noise and visual pollution, including those aspects dealing with perception, monitoring and mitigation in urban environments..

C. Public acceptance, socio-economic modelling and relevant regulatory and organisational aspects of urban air mobility systems, such as those evolving from noise, visual pollution, privacy, shared-use, land-use, liability, safety (including airworthiness) and security of operations (including enforcement), or dedicated certification schemes. Co-creation and involvement of citizens is key for this area e.g. to anticipate the behaviour, the blocking points, the needs and public tolerance/embracement for such a new mobility. Policy recommendations should also include procurement and deployment strategies

In addition, the proposals will also have to address one or more of the following research areas:

D. Services: new door-to-door or emergency services concepts allowing UAM traffic to be embedded in multi-modal urban transportation environment; new approaches for regulatory due processes associated to the sign-off of urban air services.

E. Operations: new concepts of operations allowing UAM traffic to be interwoven with the multi-modal urban transportation or emergency systems (e.g. ground/air ambulances), with due account of the safe and secure utilisation of the air space.

F. Power-plant/propulsion system development for safe, economic and environmentally friendly UAM. Characteristics shall include high power/weight ratio, fast battery recharge/fuel-cell refill, high level of reliability and fail-safety and low level of noise, emissions and maintenance requirements.

G. Infrastructure adaptation, evolution and integration into transport, energy and ICT networks for efficient and seamless door-to-door mobility.

Particular emphasis should be addressed to potentially early urban air mobility services (e.g. for air medical emergencies, for safety & security services, for logistics, etc).

TRL can reach up to level 6 depending on the level of resources leveraged for the activities.

Proposals should ensure complementarities with the European U-space Demonstrator Network and with SESAR JU U-space activities. In addition to research and industrial involvement, proposals should ensure a strong commitment for collaboration and communication with local authorities and communities as well as with players from other relevant leading-edge industrial and service sectors that can substantially contribute to meet the challenges at stake. Proposals can leverage synergies with other EU activities such as:

  • The European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC), in particular the initiative on urban air mobility, and the CIVITAS initiative.
  • The European Institute of Technology – Knowledge and Innovation Center (EIT-KIC) on Urban Mobility.
  • EU satellite-based systems for navigation (EGNOS/Galileo), observation (Copernicus) and EU communication/connectivity initiatives (e.g. 5G, C-ITS).

The proposals may include the explicit commitment from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to assist or to participate in the actions. This is particularly important in view of the new EU drone regulation.

International cooperation is encouraged in cases of mutual benefit, such as sharing of practices with early adopters of urban air mobility in non-European megacities (e.g. Singapore, Dubai, Sao Paulo, Mexico DF, etc.)

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 4 and 6 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting lower amounts.

Expected Impact

The following impacts have to be addressed by all proposals:

  • Contribute to smarter and more sustainable cities and air transport.
  • Contribute to maintain aviation safety levels.
  • Contribute to the development of European / international standards and legislation for urban air mobility.
  • Contribute to increase the capability of public authorities – such as air regulators and urban planners – to handle the regulatory due processes for UAM services.
  • Contribute to decrease the overall environmental footprint.

In addition, when relevant, the following impacts can also be addressed:

  • Contribute to decrease the time in door-to-door travel or in case of emergency interventions.
  • Contribute to reduce the lead time-to-market and de-risk the set-up of UAM services.
  • Contribute to new urban planning tools to integrate UAM services in existing plans, in particular Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) and transport/logistics plans of individual institutions.
  • Contribute to increase the competitiveness and economic growth, as congestion in cities is detrimental to business reactivity.
  • Contribute to inspire and engage new generations of students, engineers and urban planners and mobility managers.

Application Deadline: 21 April 2020 17:00:00 Brussels time

Source: European Commission

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