Article about testbed Air Mobility

Air Mobility: Steering Sweden Towards the Future

In a world increasingly focused on sustainable and efficient solutions, the quest for advanced transportation technologies is more pressing than ever. The Vinnova project Testbed Air Mobility, a visionary project based in Sweden, is at the forefront of transforming the air domain with automated and digitized systems.

At Gränsö in Västervik, during the WARA-PS Data collection week, developers like Hanna Müller and Isabell Bühlmann from Air Mobility are hard at work. They are programming critical components such as CISP and Drone operator, preparing for the public opening of the testbed in autumn 2024. This testbed is not merely a testing ground but a hub for innovation, integrated with 5G communications, surveillance, and traffic coordination systems. Here, UAVs are not just flown; they are part of a grand experiment in future mobility.

“What is most exciting is that we are charting new territory in Sweden, we are pioneers in a way.” says Hanna Müller.

This initiative is not only about aircraft; it’s about integrating an open digital, cloud-based U-space system with current and future Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems. These efforts of the project are powered by a robust partnership featuring leading entities such as Ericsson, Saab AB, the Swedish Transport Agency, RISE and several academic and governmental bodies.

“When we assemble all the components from the project team, we lay the foundation for something that will become reality. Everyone is committed to the idea which also leads to good cooperation with many different perspectives. This is an important prerequisite for creating solutions that are both safe and sustainable in the long run” says Isabell Bühlmann.

By enhancing airspace management infrastructure and digitizing airports and airspace services, the project aligns with the European Drone Strategy 2.0. According to the strategy, the goal is for drones to be an accepted part of EU citizens’ lives by 2030, and for the existing U-space regulations to be implemented.

“We are large and have important players with us who can also facilitate a transition in the future. If we don’t do it, then who will? “ says Müller.

With a focus on enhancing airspace management infrastructure, Air Mobility can also identify the limitations of the current airspace regulations.

“The regulations need to be adapted and developed so that society can make a transition on a larger scale.” Looking forward, Müller predicts substantial regulatory and societal changes: “I think that perhaps in 5-10 years we could see an implemented U-space with associated services like Drone operator, USSP, and CISP in place that, along with an updated regulatory framework, enable major changes.”

Looking Towards a Thrilling Future

The picture of how society will change with new U-spaces for unmanned vehicles is becoming clearer, and the thought can be thrilling.

“Once it’s in place, things will move quickly, we will see more self-driving vehicles in commercial transport, food deliveries, but also societal actors working with firefighting and various types of rescue missions. I can think of countless use cases for autonomous aircraft!” Says Hanna Müller. The envisioned future includes not just enhanced air traffic management but also a societal shift towards more sustainable urban environments.

“What will it be like with lots of buzzing drones in cities? From an environmental aspect, I hope it gets better. I am happy when I think about replacing cars with something more sustainable,” shares Isabell Bühlmann, highlighting the ecological potential of this technology.

Air Mobility represents more than technological innovation; it is a journey towards a more connected and sustainable future. With every test flight and simulation, Sweden is stepping closer to becoming a leader in global air mobility solutions. As Isabell Bühlmann puts it, " Air Mobility is not just a concept but a dynamic response to modern challenges for UAVs, It’s exciting to work with the future”, and indeed, the future looks promising with Air Mobility.