The project (2019-2020)
Traditionally birds have had exclusive ownership over the skies right above our heads. However, in the face of ever increasing traffic jams and congestion it does seem possible that the airspace above major cities worldwide will soon fill up with a variety of different aerial vehicles. In order to allow an open and participative dialogue about this possible development, the Technische Universität Berlin (TU) and Wissenschaft im Dialog (WiD) have created the project „The Sky is the Limit“ (Sky Limits). The project considered the opportunities and challenges that come with opening up urbain airspaces to cargo and passenger transport by new technologies such as drones.
Sky Limits explored questions like, what is the current state of academic research on the potential of urban airspace use for logstics as well as passenger transport? How could an integration of aerial vehicles be realized in terms of legal, planning and infrastructural aspects? Which actors have a vested interest in specific scenarios of urban airspace use by aerial vehicles and how could potential conflicts be resolved? Sky Limits created a systematic knowledge base, open up room for discussion and explored what interests citizens, but also companies, politicians and environmental initiatives bring to the table.
A key element of the project was the involvement of stakeholders and experts as well as the general public. The project collaborated closely with an expert advisory board, whose members from academia, business and politics provided expertise and guidance to the project. Beyond the advisory board Sky Limits connected key stakeholders and encouraged a diverse and controversial exchange between different perspectives. This allowed stakeholders to develop innovative scenarios, which took into account the potential but also risks and challenges of new aerial transport technologies. The views of citizens on the topic were included through public opinion research and members of the general public had the opportunity to engage in a debate with experts and stakeholders. The goal of this holistic approach which combines secondary research, public opinion research and participatory dialogue was to open up a debate in which the use of urban airspace by new technologies could be discussed. Part of this process was the development of recommendations for political action that citizens and experts will elaborate together.
TU Berlin: Department of Work, Technology and Participation
The Department of Work, Technology and Participation is the department responsible for the pedagogic education of the discipline of economics, work and technology (in German: Wirtschaft-Arbeit-Technik, WAT). The goal of this discipline is to make the complex interaction between people, technology, society and nature understandable, interesting and attractive.
Cluster Mobility Research
Mobility and traffic are the core research cluster at the Department of Work, Technology and Participation. On the example of traffic and mobility we conduct research on infrastructures within the social and economic context they are embedded in. In a variety of projects we look for new and innovative solutions for the satisfaction of needs for (more) mobility). To do so we use methods of public engagement, development of scenarios and guidelines, analysis of constellations and comparative historical analysis.
Wissenschaft im Dialog
WiD is committed to promoting science communication throughout Germany – with a view to all of the groups involved. We organise competitions and events, develop new formats and create platforms that give the public the opportunity to learn about science, to make their own experiments, to form their own opinions and to engage in lively debate with scientists and policymakers. We help scientists to explain their work and its social relevance to interested members of the public. As Germany’s leading organisation for science communication, we offer a platform for networking, professional development and exchanging ideas to all of those active in the sector.
Wissenschaft im Dialog (Science in Dialogue, WiD) promotes discussion and exchange about research in Germany. We organise dialogue events, exhibitions and competitions, as well as developing new formats for science communication. WiD was founded in 2000 on the initiative of the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft. We have the backing of all major scientific organisations in Germany and partnerships with a number of philanthropic foundations. Many WiD projects receive support from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Innovation and Technology Analysis (ITA)
The funding for innovation and technology analysis (ITA) by the federal ministry for education and research (BMBF) funds projects which conduct in-depth explorations of the possibilities and challenges of new technologies. The project Sky Limits was funded by the ITA funding of the BMBF for the period of 2019-2020.