Tobias Biehle (presenting with Robin Kellermann)


Mind the Gap: Concepts & Pathways for a Socially Acceptable Future of RPAS in Europe

Technical University Berlin, Germany

Bio Data

Tobias Biehle first completed his studies in sociology (B.A.) at the University of Bremen, followed by the master program Planning and Participation (M.Sc.) at the University of Stuttgart. Since the beginning of 2019, Mr. Biehle has been a research associate in the exploratory research project Sky Limits, which examines the possible development and future use of urban airspace by (logistic) drones over a period of two years. Due to his previous work in the commercial dialog moderation (DIALOG BASIS) and his participation in the Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Research (ZIRIUS) his research interests focuses in the field of mobility, urban planning and participation.


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).

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