LIVE FROM AIRSPACE WORLD 2024, GENEVA: Ericsson Drone Mobility CEO Kapil Mittal (pictured, far right) emphasised the value existing mobile infrastructure could bring in enabling advanced air mobility, as his fellow panellists mulled the familiar issue of generating cash from new technologies.  

During a panel session on AI and autonomy in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), an industry segment covering the likes of flying taxis and drones, Mittal pointed to the potential of existing telecoms infrastructure to the emerging ecosystem and highlighted industry work on drone deployments.

“How do you make sure you have solutions that mitigate the ground risk and always get connected”, he asked, highlighting these qualities could be achieved with existing 3GPP-defined technology.

While the panel was broadly positive on the role of automation in AAM deployments, given the amount of fully or semi-automatic operations already used in the aviation segment, some were more cautious on AI.

CEO and founder of unmanned aircraft player ANRA Technologies Amit Ganjoo (pictured, third from left) noted there is “a reason regulations are in place, especially in aviation which has a higher safety component than any other industry”.

Quote Icon

AI is only as good as its data sets

Amit Ganjoo, CEO ANRA Technologies

“AI is only as good as its data sets: garbage goes in, garbage comes out. As a regulator, could I trust the advice the AI system is giving?”, he added, while acknowledging the technology had value in an advisory capacity where a human has the final decision.

Money making
As is a common theme across any industry investing in new technologies and use cases, questions around cash generation were foremost.

Mark Balsdon, head of new airspace users business development, partnerships and account management at UK air traffic control specialists NATS (pictured, second from right), said there is “a lot of airspace out there that is not being used”.

“I think there’s a huge amount of opportunity to leverage the data and information we have today”, he added, pointing to information on day-to-day operations which can be gained from digital twins and a wider opportunity to “cultivate parts of airspace that aren’t used”.

Another strong theme of the panel was a push to advance these emerging technologies from initial phases into sandbox environments.  

“The bottom line is the technology is here, we have to move it,” Cranfield University professor Gokhan Inalhan (pictured, second from left) said.

The sentiment was shared by Wisk Aero director Erick Corona (pictured, third from right) and Balsdon who concluded: “I think we need to go now”.