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Enabling air mobility for European cities

Can drones be safely integrated into Europe’s airspace? An EU-backed project has demonstrated that they can.

Transport and Mobility icon Transport and Mobility

The EU-funded Uspace4UAM project has been striving to ensure the safe introduction of urban air mobility (UAM) in Europe. Since its launch in February 2021, it has conducted multinational demonstrations with drones with the aim of bridging the gap between the development and deployment of U-space capabilities and services. To show the results of months of work, Uspace4UAM held a 2-day event in Rzeszów, south-eastern Poland, in late August 2022, consisting of a conference and a practical demonstration. “In Rzeszów, we saw great interest in our project from the public services, especially the fire brigades, which shows the importance of drone systems in the area of rescue and public monitoring,” states Jiri Ilcik of project coordinator Honeywell International, Czechia, in a news item posted on ‘UASweekly.com’. “We feel excited that we are responsible for and we are running such an important project from the point of view of the use of drones in public space in European Union cities.”

A piece of the UAM puzzle

The drone flights could help inform the development of EU-wide regulations and systems that will enable an increase in the number of drone and crewed aircraft flights in European skies in the coming years, all while enhancing safety. “Uspace4UAM is successfully demonstrating an important piece of the UAM puzzle by flying an innovative drone deployment system, which has a clear and sought-after business case. By managing these flights with a highly capable U-space system the project clearly shows how selected Urban Air Mobility operations could be safely managed alongside manned aviation,” remarks SESAR Joint Undertaking representative Robin Garrity in the same news item. The SESAR Joint Undertaking – which is funding Uspace4UAM – is a partnership between European private and public sector institutions formed to speed up the delivery of smarter, connected, accessible and more sustainable air transport solutions through research and innovation. For the demonstration, test flights were carried out over Poland, covering three scenarios of autonomous drones flying for public service missions. The first scenario involved emergency services with aerial monitoring of accident sites. The second entailed the taking of ortho- and photogrammetric photos for public institutions. The third replicated the transportation of automated external defibrillators for use in life-threatening situations. “Thanks to these flights, Dronehub engineers can properly adjust the technology – both the drones and software – to the real city conditions and to the needs of public services,” observes Dronehub CEO and founder Vadym Melnyk. Dronehub is the project’s Polish partner that develops drone-in-a-box systems for automated monitoring and data collection. Vadym Melnyk continues: “Over a year of work on this project allows us to develop recommendations and conclusions that will contribute to the creation of an effective system of using drones by cities throughout the EU.” More recently, in October 2022, Uspace4UAM (U-space for UAM) held further demonstrations at a test flight centre in Villacarrillo, Spain. The three scenarios tested were: the creation of a virtual geofence to protect a landing helicopter from an intruding drone, conflict between an air taxi and an intruding drone in controlled airspace, and a route change due to the destination vertiport being unavailable. For more information, please see: Uspace4UAM project web page

Keywords

Uspace4UAM, drone, urban air mobility, UAM, U-space, SESAR Joint Undertaking

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