Hybrid air-ground robots, human-drone interaction and extended flight time, or how to increase UAS autonomy and safety levels of low-altitude drone operations, are some of the solutions that are increasing their level of maturity in the project development.

The exponential growth of urban population has been creating mobility problems in cities for decades. The great challenge is to face the paradigm shift in transportation, beyond the ground one, in terms of sustainability and efficiency. The revolution in air mobility, both for goods and people, is a fact and one of the objectives of the IMOV3D project, which focuses on the development of advanced technologies and functionalities related to air mobility that allow to overcome the challenges that this change of paradigm presents.

The Center for Advanced Aerospace Technologies (CATEC) coordinates this initiative, which is part of the ‘Cervera’ program of the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) with a budget of almost 3.2M, in which the «F. de Paula Rojas» Association for Research and Industrial Cooperation of Andalusia (AICIA), the Technological Institute of Galicia Foundation (ITG) and NAITEC (Technological Center for Automotive and Mechatronics) also participate. Since this project was launched at the beginning of the year 2020, and despite the pandemic, this consortium of companies has continued to work on increasing the level of maturity of new disruptive technologies related to the Unmanned Aerial Systems autonomy, integration in the airspace (U-space) and smart cooperative systems.

To facilitate its transfer to the industry, a working meeting was recently organized with Spanish technology companies and users of UAS solutions to present these new technologies related to urban air mobility and applications to intelligent transport.

For example, FADA-CATEC has focused one of its lines of research on the development of enabling technologies that allow increasing the autonomy of unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as the implementation of the functions and services necessary for the safe and efficient aerial traffic management of these platforms. It is currently working on the development of a smart beacon that will increase the security levels of drone operations at low altitude (VLL). This beacon will go on board the drone and will allow the transmission of information about it (position, status, identification, etc.) to the U-space services using 4G and 5G networks.
The proposed solution will make use of EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) to know in real time the integrity of the positioning obtained by the GNSS system (global navigation satellite system), increasing its precision. In addition, the Andalusian technology center has wide experience in the design and development of algorithms and functionalities for perception and trajectory planning that allow high-precision navigation, multi-vehicle conflict resolution or obstacle detection and avoidance.

ITG, AICIA and NAITEC present their developments
In this regard, ITG is focused on the development of technologies that make stable and safe automated air traffic for drones or U-space. The design of modular architectures based on microservices in the cloud, incorporating ATM-grade functional security requirements and quality standards, is an example. It will allow adding value to the development of key U-space services, especially in complex environments such as urban areas.

In addition, ITG is developing key enabling technologies for autonomous, unattended and remote operations, such as algorithmic design and embedded hardware for autonomous and precision landing, hardware for efficient power management and control, or robust command and control software, among others. In this sense, ITG has presented its technological demonstrator DroneSafeBox, a robotic hangar with the capacity to house a drone that can be operated from a remote location, minimizing response times and personal risks in emergency situations or repetitive operations, for example.

The leading Andalusian laboratory in Aerial Robotics, AICIA, presented an innovative technology of hybrid robots capable of flying, landing, rolling and taking off. These robots save energy in long-term missions and are more precise in carrying out tasks than aerial robots, presenting great advantages in applications such as infrastructure and industrial plants inspection, as well as in transport and environmental protection.
AICIA also presented drones with innovative technology that allows them to interact and carry out joint work with people in a safe and efficient way. In addition, bio-inspired drones have been developed capable of flapping wings, gliding to save energy on long missions and automatically landing in small spaces.

Finally, NAITEC presented its work about the integration of systems through functional printing to provide UAV with greater capacity for remote operation in an autonomous and safe way through the printing of MEMs systems or Antennas, among others. Likewise, NAITEC showed its sensory fusion work (Lidar, Radar, UWB, Optical and IA) to improve, together with the first mentioned work, the positioning of UAVs both in densely populated environments and in remote areas with difficult access.