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Aerial Cities 2023: Where drone businesses talk to governments - and users

October 31, 2023

To see how legislators, drone businesses and users are shaping the industry, head to Stufenbau Eventlocation in Bern, Switzerland to get an insight into future cityscapes 

If you develop drone delivery services without understanding the regulations, your company will face tough challenges. And if civil aviation bodies draft regulations without understanding drones or their capabilities, those regulations will struggle to be effective. Worse yet, your city could miss out on a market whose revenue was estimated to be worth $127 billion back in 2022, according to Analytics Insight.

The answer is to bring governments and drone organisations together to talk, share stories and explore the art of the possible. That is the aim of Aerial Cities 2023, the annual, invite-only event for senior figures in the drone and advanced air mobility (AAM) industries. And drone users will be in attendance for the first time this year, giving unique insights and a valuable level of practical experience.

Meet the sponsors and keynote speakers

As its name suggests, Aerial Cities is directed towards the use of drones and AAM systems in urban environments. An impressive list of sponsors are adding their weight to the event, with hugely varied and relevant experience. One such luminary is Spright, the company who are leading the way in beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone solutions, and are pioneering the use of drones for medical applications.

They are joined by the Bern Development Agency, as well as a host of others who cover every area of the drone industry from the drones themselves to drone management software and even the latest news in this rapidly expanding field.

This year, there are two keynote speakers. The first is Joseph Resnik of Spright who starts the first day. Expect a fascinating insight into how the company are expanding what can be expected from drone technology.

On the second day, the keynote speaker is Rene Binnewerg, the Head of the Digital Lab at the City of Hamburg. This city makes an excellent case study for how drones can be used in other practical applications, since the Hamburg Port Authority is working with Hamburg Hafen und Logistik subsidiary HHLA Sky on an ambitious drone programme.

The PORTwings project will see drones providing real-time footage of the effects of storm surges, accidents and other unforeseen events at Europe’s busiest port. They will help with the maintenance and expansion of crucial infrastructure, with inspections of buildings and other facilities gathering footage that is streamed directly to the new control centre. Expect to hear much more about this – and ambitious future plans.

Supplementing the keynote speakers, there is a further panel of featured speakers, all of whom have particular expertise in different areas. There is the Managing Director of HHLA Sky itself, Matthias Gronstedt, and Brendan Groves, Vice President of Regulatory and Policy Affairs at Skydio

This company are working on a wide range of applications, from bridge inspection to substation monitoring by way of policing and defence. Brendan is therefore particularly well-positioned to take a look at how the regulatory environment affects every area of drone-related activity.

To balance out these senior figures from the private sector, there are three featured speakers from various governments. There is Marcel Kagi, from the Federal Office of Aviation in Switzerland, Eileen Quinlivan, Assistant Chief Executive of Dublin City Council, and Dr Sebastian Friess, President of the Bern Economic Development Agency, making for an impressively diverse group.

Meet the customers

These figures from local and national governments have particularly interesting stories. Thomas Opfermann is one of the speakers who take a closer look at ‘aerial hospitals’. A former nurse, he is now a project manager with the Institute for Hospital Information Management in Germany. He has helped the St Franziskus Hospital build a partnership with our sponsors, Spright, that will see time-critical medical supplies ferried between sites by air, instead of by slow and expensive taxis.                                                   

Spright have already done vital work moving medical supplies, tissue samples and blood between medical facilities in Lyons, in Western Kansas. This is a very rural area, so the extension of the company’s activities to the hospital, based in Munster, is an exciting new challenge.

Thomas will be joined on stage by Maurus Immoos, the Project Leader of Logistics and Services at the Stadspital Zurich. This is the focal point for what is currently the world’s longest drone corridor with drones busily flying biological samples and diagnostic tests the seven kilometres between two locations. To show the remarkable diversity of the governmental representatives who will be speaking, Rene and Thomas will be joined by senior figures from the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, the Department of Transport in the UK, and an inspector from the Maltese Civil Aviation Directorate.

And meet the drone companies

It makes the event a vital opportunity to understand the legislative framework. But the involvement of private sector organisations at the cutting edge of the industry means the event offers so much more.

The Chief Technical Officer of Latin American delivery company Aerialoop and the founder of Australian air taxi firm Skyportz are both due to speak. Both have different business models and views of how to succeed in the advanced air mobility market.

Aerialoop will be represented by Andreas Antener and proudly proclaim themselves as the fastest-growing drone delivery airline. Active across the Americas, they have five hubs throughout the region, and last year made over ten thousand flights. Their longest to date covers a distance of eighty miles, and the company are passionate about making deliveries in urban areas, hence their presence at Aerial Cities.

Andreas joins an expert panel who will explore the economic effects of increasing autonomy for profitable units, a subject that the owners of many thriving companies will be interested in. One of the other people from the industry who will be joining him is Clem Newton-Brown, the CEO and co-founder of the Australian company, Skyportz.

Where most drone companies are exploring how drone deliveries will impact the future, Skyportz are an AAM in every sense of the phrase. Their plan is for a wide network of vertiports which will operate an air taxi service that services business parks, shopping centres and other city developments, creating a whole new infrastructure.

See you there

Aerial Cities 2023 starts on 8 November, and lasts for two days. For anyone who wants to see how their city can embrace the future by becoming an aerial city, and get an understanding of the hazards and opportunities presented by the road ahead, all roads lead to Bern. Apply for your place and see the full list of speakers from across the industry here.

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