Drone-as-a-service – autonomous flight piloting programme’s open call

Artikkelikuva: Drone-as-a-service – autonomous flight piloting programme’s open call

Helsinki’s climate goal is to be carbon-neutral by 2035 and to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent between 1990 and 2030. This means a significant need to invest in the development of low-emission mobility as well. The aim regarding traffic is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the capital by at least 20%.

According to the Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 action plan, the most effective way to reduce traffic emissions is to reduce emissions from motor traffic, for example by reducing car travel.

The ERDF-funded project Carbon neutral drone service solutions in Southern Finland contributes to the goal of reducing urban traffic powered by internal combustion engines by improving the business opportunities for drones, which are more energy-efficient than other modes of transport, while strengthening and increasing interest in more extensive uses for drone services. 

As part of the project Carbon neutral drone service solutions in Southern Finland, Forum Virium Helsinki is organising the Drone-as-a-service autonomous flight piloting programme as a so-called agile pilots programme. 

This Drone-as-a-service piloting programme seeks to create a new understanding of future drone service solutions by experimenting with new innovations and evaluating the business opportunities and emission reduction impacts of these experiments more broadly.

As part of the project, a co-creation workshop was held on 5 March 2020, one of the angles of which was the idea of drones supporting the maintenance and development of the urban infrastructure.

Forum Virium Helsinki has defined the subject of this first call for tenders on the basis of the results of the workshop and a survey it carried out with Helsinki City Construction Services Stara. 

Subject of the call for tenders

The procurement is targeted at drone-as-a-service experiments that promote the maintenance or development of urban infrastructure. 

Challenges for which the experiments could provide solutions include the following:

  • up-to-date situational picture (e.g. remote work management)
  • collection of environmental data (e.g. mapping of park and forest vegetation for carbon sink calculation, calculation of high-volume land masses on construction sites, street view for repair and maintenance of streets and traffic signs)
  • monitoring of the built environment or environment under construction (e.g. imaging green areas and street areas). 

Possible solutions could include the following, for example: 

  • laser scanning
  • building information modelling
  • thermal imaging
  • videography and the utilisation of machine vision.

The agile pilots sought through this call for tenders must provide genuine novelty value compared to the experiments that have already been carried out. The imaging can be programmed for specific areas, such as Kalasatama, Jätkäsaari, Arabianranta or Suomenlinna.

The call for tenders and submitting a tender

Through this open call for tenders, Forum Virium Helsinki is looking for at least one agile pilot that meets the challenges of urban infrastructure described above. 

The maximum total price of the experiment is €12,000 (VAT 0%). Several service providers may be selected through the call for tenders. 

The tender must include the total price of the experiment, a description of the content of the service, a breakdown of the costs and the equipment with which the experiment is to be carried out.

The call for tenders is open to companies and other operators that have a business ID. Tenders for experiments can also be submitted collectively by two or more operators. 

The actors selected must provide, upon request, certificates and statements of taxes paid and pension insurance premiums and any necessary insurance policies in accordance with the Act on the Contractor’s Obligations and Liability when Work is Contracted Out. 

The procurement of the test flight pilot requires that the drone companies providing the service have a safety programme system and prerequisites for safe operations, as well as previous evidence of drone flights. The actors selected for the experiments must draw up a safety plan for the test flights, taking into account the operation’s level of risk. The service providers’ prerequisites for safe flight operations will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as part of the procurement. 

During the experiment, a minimum of 50 flights will be flown, and the maximum duration of the experiment is two months.

The call for tenders is searching for experiments that can be put into practice with Stara during the piloting period at a separately agreed time in June–September 2020, but within the limits allowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. If, for example, the Government imposes a curfew that would be in force in June–September, the experiment may be cancelled completely. 

The actors selected should be able to demonstrate the experiment in the Tech runway event at Pyhtää the 27th August. 

Forum Virium Helsinki reserves the right to carry out or authorise a third party to carry out safety, feasibility and impact assessments of the experiments in collaboration with Stara. 

The open call ended May 17th 2020.

Selection and evaluation criteria

The Forum Virium Helsinki expert jury will evaluate the tenders submitted by the deadline. 

The agile pilots offered will be evaluated based on the following criteria: 1) novelty and innovativeness, 2) feasibility and 3) impact. Tenders will be scored in accordance with the criteria described below.

Each evaluation criterion is scored on a scale of 0–4 points. The maximum score that a tender can receive is 12 points. 


0 p. minimum requirement not met
1 p. minimum requirement met
2 p. requirement met
3 p. requirement met well
4 p. requirement met excellently 


Novelty and carbon-neutrality (0–4 p.) 

  • The service or product has genuine novelty value and it is innovative.
  • The experiment brings new kinds of practices, solutions and perspectives on the use of drones and the challenges of urban infrastructure and replaces existing solutions that use internal combustion.
  • The experiment has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions. 

Feasibility (0–4 p.)

  • The tenderer demonstrates that they have sufficient competence and resources to carry out the experiment. Evidence of previous professional activity and any autonomous flights must be provided with references. 
  • The description of measures, timetables and resources shows that the experiment can be carried out in a high-quality manner and on schedule. 

Impact (0–4 p.)

  • The intended impact of the experiment and the method to verify the impact are described clearly. 
  • Scaling the service (or product) can create concrete reductions in CO2 emissions. 
  • The solution can be scaled to be applied to other environments and with other partners.

The tender or tenders with the best scores will be selected for implementation. Tenders that do not meet the minimum requirement for one or more of the criteria will not be selected for implementation. 

The expert jury reserves the right not to select any service provider.

Further information

Any questions regarding the call for tenders must be submitted in writing by 3rd May 2020 to heidi.heinonen@forumvirium.fi (subject line: Drone-as-a-service). The questions and answers will be compiled and published on this web page on 6th May 2020. 

Information about agile piloting

Agile piloting is an agile, challenge-based model for experimenting with new services and technologies in a real-world urban environment with real end users – be they residents, units of different City divisions or companies forming part of the Helsinki Group. Agile pilots respond to real, identified challenges.

Aim of agile piloting 

Co-creation is an essential part of agile piloting. The solutions are developed together with the City, companies, residents, research partners and other stakeholders. The objective is to learn and share the results widely with different actors and networks. The key partners and channels will be identified case-specifically. 

For the City and other municipal actors, it is crucial to gather lessons learnt and results about the feasibility of new technologies and services in relation to the challenges identified and to the development of activities in general. Agile piloting primarily aims to create and share new knowledge and understanding, not to result in subsequent procurements or customership with the City. 

For companies, agile pilots provide an opportunity to trial new solutions in a real-world urban environment with real residents – thus offering a reference of the service or product being piloted. 

What does Forum Virium Helsinki offer?

Forum Virium Helsinki supports companies during the piloting. The company receives support in the practical implementation of the pilots, finding test users, planning and coordination, administrative matters and permits, documentation and communication as needed. Forum Virium Helsinki supports the cooperation with the key actors mentioned above. 

The company may use existing smart infrastructure and data in its pilot. 

What is required from the companies?

The company conducting the agile pilot shall undertake to provide the following materials to Forum Virium Helsinki, Stara and the City of Helsinki. The procedure is planned to be light for the company.

  • Any open data produced in the pilot 
  • Prior information on the pilot: basic information for communications, goals and hypothesis, implementation plan 
  • Public result material: basic statistics on the pilot, light assessment of emissions impacts, key results and conclusions 
  • The company’s experiences of the pilot: report on progress (mid-term report), end report (end of pilot), post-assessment (e.g. one year after the pilot)

More information


Heidi Heinonen

#SmartMobility #Drone #CarbonNeutral
#5G #SmartLight
Mobile: +358 50 323 1327


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