Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Creating the 21st century spatial ecosystem

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FF2020 (Creating the 21st century spatial ecosystem)

Période du rapport: 2020-12-01 au 2022-05-31

It is expected that 80% of the worldwide population inhabit cities in 2050, which means communities should rethink how transportation is provided. Existing infrastructures are about to collapse, so to make transport on the surface of our planet a less crowded, we can either go up (air) or down (underground). Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is the use of small highly automated aircraft to carry passengers or cargo at lower altitudes in urban and suburban areas which have been developed in response to traffic congestion. There are still a lot of hurdles to take before we can be sure that UAM can be a useful puzzle piece in the future of transportation. The focus of FF2020 is to research and develop a combination of solutions that will help take these hurdles.
The worldwide digital transformation is accelerating the disruptive innovation UAM can bring, not only in aviation but also in mobility systems and Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans. However no Low-level Traffic Management (LTM) system exists to organise the activity of thousands of UAS in airspace where also manned aircraft may travel (e.g. helicopters in an emergency or medical services). Furthermore, traditional communication, navigation and traffic surveillance systems do not include airspace at a very low level over urban areas. There are several hurdles with infrastructure, technology and legal issues that must be solved, including the involvement of the local municipal administrations. In fact, while aviation authorities are essentially responsible for the safety of flight, municipal authorities are responsible to govern the territory. For flights at a low level, both responsibilities overlap and therefore they need an efficient platform to discharge their respective tasks as swiftly as demanded by modern society.
FF2020’s goals are ambitious: Ease the integration (of UAM) in the legal regulatory framework; Ensure control with the provision of a governance model, interoperability frameworks and an Identity of Things (IdoT) scheme; Facilitate the implementation of UAM services based on European principles in cities and ecosystems; To identify strategies and foster replicability and scalability; To promote and provide the scientific community and industry with a better understanding of the project outcomes and overcoming current challenges
The focus in the first 18 months was on r&d of the projects frameworks and on the first test/iteration cycle through the first tests in a living lab. A concept DIGITAL TOOLBOX (TECHNOLOGY AGNOSTIC SERVICE LAYER) has been created. This plug and play solution for cities to implement UAM solution for and within cities is technology agnostic and enables business and government to work together and foster innovation. Seven technology suppliers have already been onboarded. The other frameworks are integrated into the toolbox. The toolbox’s concept businessmodel was generated.
UAM solutions will need to apply European governance models. The UAM INTEROPERABILITY GOVERNANCE MODEL has been developed including a IDENTITY OF THINGS (IdoT) SCHEME that enables living labs to to implement a standardised steering model which is be replicable and scalable cross-border. Additionally, the first version of the legal, organisational, semantic, technical INTEROPERABILITY FRAMEWORK, enables further integration of the other FF2020 frameworks.
Another challenge to scalability of UAM in Europe is the (un)ease of regulatory compliance. FF2020 has identified relevant (European and Member State) legislation, along with a method to find relevant legislation. The findings will serve as input for the semantic enrichment of a CONCEPTNET, which allows for the semantic interpretation of rules in a machine-readable way. The first experiments have been conducted and seem promising. These results will be used to construct machine-readable rules. This requires an interpretation framework and an integration of CONCEPTNET with one or more interpretation frameworks. A method for this has been developed and some steps of it have been tested.
FF2020 works to enable a spatial digital UAM infrastructure that is interoperable across cities. A state-of-the-art spatial digital infrastructure is COSM OS. It has been adapted use in UAM and has been integrated with the other FF2020 Frameworks. A DRONE PORTAL has been added in order to make it possible to run integrated tests of all the FF2020 frameworks in the Living Labs. The first test and iteration round was successful.
The Living Labs in which the UAM services and frameworks will be tested have done a lot of preparatory work. A specification of the UAM demonstrators has been produced along with the first version of the ‘system under test requirements and certification’. The first Living Lab has run its tests successfully. The first peer reviewed publication of FF2020 has been produced by a the living lab.
By the end of the project period, we will have developed a working concept of the DIGITAL TOOLBOX together with a potential business model. The plug and play environment that is technology agnostic, will help cities in future to not get locked in by vendors in the field of UAM technology and will help build trust for citizens in how UAM is being applied in their airspace through transparency. This would remove several big barriers in the adoption of UAM in future.
The UAM INTEROPERABILITY GOVERNANCE MODEL, the IDOT SCHEME and the INTEROPERABILITY FRAMEWORK will be iterated in the coming period through the experiences in the integration with the other FF2020 frameworks during the tests in the living labs. It will make it possible in future to assure UAM activities can be conducted accordance with EU governance models in a standardized way.
To further ease integration of UAM in European regulatory framework FF2020 will have made existing UAS regulation machine-interpretable and machine-executable (as far as possible). Machine-interpretable and machine-executable liability rules fur UAS in an urban mobility context will have been developed (as far as possible). If the project succeeds to develop an ontology that captures and organises rules into relevant concepts and hierarchies, the language independent (semantic) character of this ontology would allow scaling the features across language and EU countries. Any significant advances in these subjects in the regulatory field would mean a major step forwards for the possibilities of future UAM adoption.
The solution, and a key innovation of FF2020, lies in the efficient querying, visualization and handling of transactions on assets, most vitally, validation of changes to those assets, such as location or ownership. This is the Geospatial digital infrastructure. Legacy networking and communication protocols (TCP/IP etc) lack “spatial” dimensions. They do not possess the ability to explicitly describe, query or update the specific location or orientation of an object within a physical or virtual space, nor do they include a common language for correlating those spatial relationships to permissions and trade contracts.
During the project period all above frameworks will be tested in 5 living labs and their use cases. This will result in frameworks that are tested in real live settings and iterated to achieve the highest standards as well as providing us with clear results to further the current state of knowledge.

Documents connexes