Smart City Update from Stavanger: Drones can save lives

Stavanger Smart City in Stavanger municipality participates in the EU project Airmour, which develops and tests drones for use in emergency situations.

– The Airmour project explores how emergency medical services can be supported by drones. The project gives us valuable learning and an opportunity to influence future solutions within emergency medical services in Europe, says Terje Rygh, adviser in Stavanger Smart City in Stavanger municipality.

Together with colleague Phillip Durnford, Stavanger Smart City has coordinated the drone project in Stavanger municipality. The Airmour project itself is coordinated by the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland and is a collaboration between cities from six countries: Germany, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. In addition, there are partners that include research institutions, aviation authorities and emergency services.


Roadshow in Europe

In the autumn of 2022, Stavanger municipality was the first partner in Airmour to carry out demonstration flights. Important partners in the project are eHang Scandinavia and the research institute Norce.

– Airmour focuses on challenges and needs related to "blue light" drones in cities and communities. If the accident is imminent, drones can quickly arrive at the scene of the accident, without the challenges of traffic jams or other roadblocks, says Rygh.

In the spring of 2023, Airmour was on a roadshow in Europe, with cargo drone demonstrations in Kassel, Luxembourg and Helsinki. In Kassel, it was demonstrated how a medical cargo drone works in densely built-up areas. The drone transported tissue samples to healthcare personnel.

– Tissue samples must be dispatched quickly, so it is time-critical that these arrive quickly. The drone worked perfectly, the tissue samples arrived within the deadline - even though it was very windy on the day of the demonstration in Kassel, says Durnford.


Lack of regulations

– The goal is to create solutions that give our residents a better life. Most likely, the cargo drone solutions will not come soon, we are talking about five years at the earliest, emphasizes Rygh.

He adds that the challenges today are, even though the project is approaching its final phase, that drone traffic is still at an early stage:

– Laws and regulations for the use of emergency medical drones are not yet in place. In addition, there are different rules in each country, it is a jungle to find out how to fly in different countries and regions.

This applies particular to the passenger drones, which will transport emergency medical personnel.

–  Unfortunately, we have not been able to test larger drones with simulation dolls so far in the project. It is difficult to get the test flight approved, due to the size of the drone, explains Rygh.

Airmour addresses issues such as regulations, data security, ground risk and privacy and can therefor provide input to authorities and aviation authorities and others in the EU.

Drone operator eHang Scandinavia AS has close contact with Avinor and the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority. Both are important national partners for the further work with certifications and necessary flight permits.


Input from residents

Stavanger municipality also receives input from residents on how future drone use should be shaped. Several departments in Stavanger municipality are involved in the project.

– During the project, we involve the citizens to learn more about their thoughts related to the use of drones. The project develops e-courses and tools for urban planners, drone operators and others. Airmour also contributes to the upcoming civil aviation regulations for the use of drones in the EU, says Rygh.


Facts about Airmour

The research project Airmour is a three-year EU project, 2020-2023, which explores the possibility of transporting emergency medical equipment, and eventually people, in urban areas using drones.

• The research project is approaching its final phase. The results from the flights will be used to develop e-courses and tools for city planners, drone operators and others who may benefit from it, as well as contribute to the upcoming civil aviation regulations for the use of drones in the EU.


Photo taken by Nicolas Wefers