Mind the Gap: Concepts & Pathways for a Socially Acceptable Future of RPAS in Europe
Technical University Berlin, Germany
Robin Kellermann is research associate, PhD candidate and lecturer at Technical University Berlin working in the fields of transport and mobility research with a focus on sociotechnical and cultural historical perspectives. He has a background in cultural studies and historical urban studies. He has collaborated in a series of European and domestic research projects ranging from public acceptance of digital technologies in public transportation to long-term scenario developments for the European transport industries. Currently, he is coordinator of the project «The Sky is the Limit – Future utilisation of urban airspace» funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, which is an explorative research project dedicated to a systematic elaboratation on risks and opportunities of drones as a means for urban logistics and transportation.
RPAS have the potential to profoundly change our everyday life. A constantly growing application catalogue may soon make RPAS more visible and ‘tangible’ to wider parts of the society. In contrast to RPAS’ proceeding technological solutions and the regulatory framework, questions of social acceptance remain widely blurry. However, disregarding that evolving gap subsequently poses a critical degree of uncertainty and risk to industry and policy makers alike. In order to shed light on the complex mechanisms of social acceptability our contribution will provide a stringent review of theories and empirical data focusing on the role of risk perception in technological innovation processes. Adopting key concepts from technology acceptance research to the specifics of the RPAS environment, we will illustrate the subject’s key factors to social acceptability comprising perceived risks, controllability and benefits (Chamata & Winterton 2018). Furthermore, aiming for a transfer from sociotechnical theory to industrial and planning practices, we will provide the audience recommendations for public-oriented design and implementation strategies based on approaches of openness, transparency and participation. Lessons learned from previous trajectories of innovation adaptation will enrich the perspective for RPAS development. As technology matures, the presentation advocates for paying closer attention to issues of social acceptance as a now present tasks of the European RPAS community as without social acceptance, economic scenarios and the legitimacy of an institutionalized framework stays at risk (Lucke 1995).