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AIRBorne information for Emergency situation Awareness and Monitoring

Final Report Summary - AIRBEAM (AIRBorne information for Emergency situation Awareness and Monitoring)

Executive Summary:
AIRBEAM, “AIRBorne information for Emergency situation Awareness and Monitoring”, is an FP7 Security project that has been selected by the European Commission in 2010 (Grant Agreement n° 261769) as answer to the topic “Information acquisition using dedicated platforms, including UAV, aerostatic platforms (balloons) and satellites”.
The AIRBEAM Consortium, led by Airbus Group SAS, Airbus Group Innovations department, gathered 21 partners and 3 third parties from 11 countries. The partnership included both small and large companies, research organisations, universities and end-users. The project has started at the beginning of 2012 and has lasted 4 years.
The project was based on the fact that the number of unmanned air- and space-borne platform available and their associated sensors present a new set of challenges and opportunities to end-users involved in the effective management of emergencies and operations of law enforcement.
Focusing on a multi-platform approach, the project has developed a modular architecture that enables to optimize the use of available systems, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), balloons and satellites, to fit variable needs. Not only were the platform characteristics considered but possible sensor suite and communications assets were also taken into account.
The situation awareness toolbox developed during the project will allow end-users to generate added-value information by fusing the various data, increasing thereby the overall situation awareness.
The validation of the AIRBEAM system has been demonstrated through both simulations and two live demonstrations focusing on law enforcement and civil protection.

Project Context and Objectives:

The European Union has suffered in the recent years from unprecedented security events (such as environmental disasters for the civil protection area or terrorist attacks for the law enforcement field). Tragically, the number of such low-probability, high-risk scenarios is increasing. Anticipating and responding to such natural and human-generated disasters has proven to be a challenge to the worldwide community.

While the use of air- and space-borne assets has long been identified as interesting for this goal, the emergence of unmanned platforms allows for a reassessment of the situation. Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) have reached a significant level of maturity in the military domain. Nevertheless, there is currently almost no market for civilian RPAS due to the regulatory constraints associated with flying RPAS in non-segregated airspace. Some initiatives have nonetheless taken place to investigate the use of RPAS as a mean to increase situation awareness.

Information acquisition during crisis situations can be done using a large variety of platforms ranging from micro-drones to satellites via balloons, mini and large RPAS, etc... RPAS manufacturers have been keen on presenting the added value of their own products but in doing so usually validate the fact that no single platform approach offers the full spectrum of flexibility each stakeholder would require.

This collaboration in civil security is becoming a reality at the European level. While this European civil protection mechanism is growing, the teams and their equipment dispatched to the location of a major disaster often come from multiple participating states. This multiplicity requires a high level of interoperability between sensors and platforms.

In order to tackle the challenges brought on by crisis on wide areas, multiplatform approaches have yet to be assessed. This will enable the combination of the value of each platform ensuring a higher overall situation awareness to the end users. This multiplatform approach can also be implemented at Member State level but will need a similar level of interoperability required by European collaboration

Project main objectives

AIRBEAM is the answer to the topic SEC 2010.4.2.3 “Information acquisition using dedicated platforms, including UAV, aerostatic platforms (balloons) and satellites”.

The number of unmanned air- and space-borne platform available and their associated sensors present a new set of challenges to end users involved in the effective management of emergencies and actions of law enforcement. The number of platforms will increase significantly once established the regulatory framework enabling the use of unmanned aerial systems in un-segregated airspace. The project is focused on three main objectives:
• Provide and demonstrate value to end users involved in crisis management
• Provide an integration framework serving security applications to the multiple related initiatives
• Develop the technological bricks and standards allowing for the rapid take up of this multiplatform approach by Member States

From the end-users point of view, the concept proposed by AIRBEAM could be summarised by a situation awareness system for the management of crisis over wide area taking benefit of an optimised set of aerial (unmanned) platforms, including satellites, and communication system.

The AIRBEAM Consortium, led by Airbus Group SAS, Airbus Group Innovations department, has gathered 21 partners and 3 third parties from 11 countries. The partnership included both small and large companies, research organisations and universities and end-users.

The project has started at the beginning of 2012 and has lasted 4 years.

Project Results:
Project organization

The main goal of AIRBEAM was to develop a set of multiplatform situation awareness tools that will assist governmental agencies in managing crises over wide areas more efficiently and in a cost-effective manner.

Thus, the work plan was devised in order to be scenario-oriented using both simulations and real demonstrations as assessment tools. The involvement of end-users both at the definition phase and the evaluation phase has ensured that the project attains its goal.

The following top level work plan reflects the intentions of the project:
• WP1 Concepts of use
• WP2 Sensors and on-board processing
• WP3 System architecture and communications
• WP4 Situation awareness
• WP5 Integration and evaluation
• WP6 Exploitation and dissemination
• WP7 Project management

The project has been divided in three periods. The first period of the project has been mainly dedicated to set up the baseline for the project, with activities focused on four main axes :
• The establishment of links with the end-users community through several events, so as to be able to understand the needs, initiate the definition of the requirements and list the scenarios of interest.
• The update of the status of the technologies and assets relevant for the project, including platforms, payloads, processing, communications, ...
• The design of the system and communications architecture: a generic system has been defined taking into account large scale and small scale scenarios. Our system design is based on a core element, the Mission Management and Exploitation (MME) center, which is connected to aerial platform systems or satellite observation services and to end user system.
• The initialization of the demonstrations that take place in the last part of the project: the environment and the tools for the simulations were selected as well as the locations of the live trials and the associated constraints.

During period 2, the focus has been mainly on the finalisation of the theoretical work and the preparation of the demonstrations, with the following objectives:
• Maintain the links with the end-user community, especially those for the local support of the live demonstrations.
• Finalise the generic approach with high level requirements, concept of operations and functional, communication and system architecture.
• Prepare the demonstrations, in particular with very detailed scenarios, based on end-users requests and the application of the generic approach to the architectures used for the demonstrations.

The third and last period of the project has seen the realisation and the evaluation of the simulation campaign and the two live demonstrations in Belgium for the civil protection scenario and in Portugal for the law enforcement scenario, both with a high involvement of the end-users community.

Main S&T results

The project has led to several results at subtasks, tasks and work package levels. We will highlight here those linked with the major project objectives and which are neither confidential nor classified.
• End-users involvement : the contribution of several end-users, through different channels in line with their possibilities of involvement, has been a key factor of success for the project. In particular, the concept of forming panels with experts and stakeholders can be used as a model for any other end-user driven project within the European research tools.
• Scenarios for security missions : based on the end-users experience and requirements, more than 60 scenarios of interest have been identified. The 16 more representative scenarios have been selected and extensively developed, taking into account user needs, regulatory constraints and system performances.
• Requirements and architectures : given the huge spectrum of possible scenarios and end users, AIRBEAM has developed a modular and adaptable architecture in which the platforms and sensors become to the end-user a transparent and seamless means of information acquisition. A generic system has been defined taking into account large scale and small scale scenarios. A complete set of system and technical requirements has been set up as potential inputs for future direct use by Member States.
• Situation awareness toolbox : the design of the system is based on a core element, the Mission Management and Exploitation (MME) center, that is connected to one or several aerial platform systems carrying sensors or satellite observation service and to end user system. The MME has several functionalities: handle end user requests, plan mission with necessary platforms/sensors, manage sensor data acquisition, fuse data, integrate extraction algorithms and provide end users with requested information. Aerial platform systems have been considered as standalone subsystems made of aerial part and ground part to be able to use available unmanned system and future certified RPAS. In addition, a communication service platform demonstrator has been defined, implemented and used for the live demonstrations for mission preparation and mission analysis by replay.
• Validation activities : in order to demonstrate both the flexibility of the AIRBEAM architecture and the performances of the toolbox, 6 of the defined scenarios have been selected for validation and demonstration purposes : 4 scenarios have been simulated through serious games tools while 2 others have been performed through live trials in Belgium (June 2015) and in Portugal (September 2015).
o By running scenarios selected and defined by the end-users in a simulated environment, the increased capabilities for situation awareness has been assessed methodically. Various platforms and sensor architectures have been compared using key performance indicators.
o Live demonstrations with multiple civil unmanned aerial platforms have completed these simulation exercises in demonstrating to end users the potential and maturity of the coordinated use of multiple platforms.
➢ In the Belgian demonstration, several aspects have been assessed during a complex natural disaster scenario organized at 3 different locations simultaneously : large scale storm with Internally Displaced Person that caused also a bush fire in a natural reserve and a chemical truck accident elsewhere. In addition to some high resolution satellite images, 4 RPAS have been simultaneously used : a small multi-copter (VTOL) systems for local use, a swarm of VTOL for local use, a 3.8m wingspan RPAS for local/regional use, a tethered balloon and a surrogated RPAS for regional survey. The total exercise has lasted several hours. It has involved people from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA (United Nations), fire brigades and police forces.

➢ The Portuguese demonstration has been a 2 hours exercise focusing on a law enforcement scenario with the participation of the Guarda Nacional Republicana. The demonstration has used 2 small systems (local survey) with very rapid deployment as requested by the end-users. A larger fixed wing platform (Optionally Piloted Aircraft) offering a longer endurance has ensured tracking and reconnaissance missions during the exercise. A tethered balloon has been used for perimeter surveillance. Satellite imagery has also been used. The whole scenario has been performed in segregated environment (ground and airspace).


Through intense collaboration between research organisations, industrial partners, stakeholders and end users, AIRBEAM has defined an ambitious but realistic concept of use. Within the scope of crisis management and law enforcement, the project will provide official public users from Member States means to assess the technical solutions provided by unmanned aerial platforms and to specify their own needs.

Potential Impact:

In order to maximize the potential impact, the Consortium has associated as closely as possible the community of end-users and has organized or participated to several events for the dissemination of information and results. For end-users, four levels of consultations / interactions have been proposed :
• 3 partners of the consortium were end-users.
• 6 “Wise Guys Panels” meetings have been organised to collect a wide and representative view of the requirements and the expectations of the end-users (police, fire brigades, ...).
• Several end-users have participated to project and dissemination workshops.
• Additional end-users have taken a very active and decisive part in the organization and execution of the project live demonstrations.

The AIRBEAM Wise Guys Panel (WGP) consisted of a confidential mix of European and global operative and technical end users, experts, as well as other relevant people who gathered to discuss and comment on topics that were relevant to the AIRBEAM project, as well as to the whole RPAS community including the industry and the end users themselves. The intent of the WGPs was to share data, information and knowledge in symposium-type meetings where the Chatham House Rule was employed when needed.
• Wise Guys Panel Meeting 1 has been organized in Finland in September 2012. The topics for the meeting were first, learning from experience of North America, since the assumption was that some Americans have used RPASs for decades in civil operations. Second topic was introducing the variety of scenarios that the AIRBEAM project had gathered from the end users. Third topic discussed was related to the maturity of the industry.
• Wise Guys Panel Meeting 2 took place in March 2013 in Finland. The main subject was on the RPAS regulatory environment.
• Wise Guys Panel Meeting 3 was held in September 2013 in the United Kingdom, focusing on the RPAS simulations and their applicability
• Wise Guys Panel Meeting 4 was organized in November 2014 in Greece. The meeting was dedicated to the scenarios that we intended to simulate for the validation phase.
• Wise Guys Panel Meeting 5 took place in March/April 2015 in Finland. The topic was mostly on scenarios of interest and related RPAS solutions for special weather conditions such as the Artic one.
• The last and 6th Wise Guys Panel Meeting has been organized in December 2015. Its purpose was to address the RPAS and Satellite legislation.

In parallel, in addition to 9 scientific publications, several dissemination events have taken place throughout the project lifetime scaling from presentations in universities and institutions within Europe, scientific publications in international workshops and project presentations in Governmental officials and other stakeholders. Main events are summarized below :
• RPAS CIVOPS, Brussels, Belgium 2012 : RPAS CIVOPS is a yearly international conference for the use of RPAS for civil purpose (Organized by UVS-International). More than 150 attendees participated in the event.
• UAS Workshop at ILA Berlin Air Show 2012 : the first UAS Workshop at the exhibition has been organized. The full day workshop was organized in two tracks “Applications of UAS” and “Research and Innovations”. The scope of the 9 talks, which were presented by internationally well-known actors in the UAS field, covered civil usage of aerial platforms, mission operations, sensor fusion and aerial platform cooperation. The workshop was accessible by professionals in the aviation industry and was able to attract more than 30 visitors.
• IEEE GLOBECOM Workshop Wi-UAV 2012 : in collaboration with international partners, the international IEEE workshop Wireless Networking, Control and Positioning for Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles has been organised. The workshop addressed topics which are relevant for a variety of unmanned systems and focused on several topics related to RPAS. The workshop had participants from over 7 countries with 10 peer reviewed scientific contributions.
• Presentation in Tilburg University, Netherlands 2012 : AIRBEAM was invited to make a presentation related to the project scope, objectives and expected outcome to Master students (first responders following the specialisation in Disaster management). The audience consisted of approximately 20 students, mostly already involved at high decision making level in different place in Belgium and the Netherlands.
• Presentation in Rampen Coördinatoren Limburg (RaCoLi), Bilzen, Belgium, 2013 : AIRBEAM was presented to Fire Brigade Officers during the RaCoLi event (Disaster Coordination Province Limburg- Belgium). The Consortium has set up a stand for AIRBEAM where more than 100 people visited the stand in six groups.
• SPIE International Conference, Baltimore, USA 2013 : SPIE Conferences and Exhibitions connect science and industry. In this conference, the latest innovations across a wide range of technologies are presented.
• Paris Air Show, Paris France, 2013 : the Paris Air Show (Salon international de l’aéronautique et de l’espace, Paris-Le Bourget) is the world’s calendar-oldest air show. Established in 1909, it is currently held every odd year at Le Bourget Airport in north Paris, France. One partner participated in this event with a dedicated stand and presented the results of AIRBEAM concerning the project and the Medusa camera.
• UAV-G Rostock, Germany, 2013 : UAV-g 2013 is an International Conference with the focus on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Geomatics (UAV-g). Using UAVs as data acquisition platform and as measurement instrument has become attractive for many emerging applications. UAV-g 2013 brought together experts in photogrammetry, surveying, robotics, computer vision, artificial intelligence, aerospace engineering and geosciences. Researchers, developers, service and system providers as well as users were invited to contribute with presentations, posters, exhibitions, demonstrations and discussions to create synergies between research and applications using UAS in Geomatics.
• CivOps Conference, Brussels, Belgium 2013 : the Conference focused on the promotion of the use of remotely piloted systems (air, ground, naval, space) of all types, sizes & classes, at system & sub-system level with a strong focus on remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) with Maximum Take-Off Mass (MTOW) of below & above 150 kg, their development, related rules & regulations, and civil RPAS operations. The main objective of the conference was the exchange of information and co-operation in the field of remotely piloted systems (aerial, terrestrial, naval) and the related technologies, between industry (manufacturers & operators), government authorities, civil aviation authorities, universities, research and development centres, Ministries and the European Commission.
• European Symposium on Border Surveillance and SaR operations technology, Heraklion, Greece 2014 : the Symposium, organised by one AIRBEAM partner, took place in Crete (Greece). The Greek government, Regional Authorities, and EC officers were present at the event. The objective was to bring together the consortia of the EU Research Projects related to Border Surveillance and Search and Rescue operations for presenting their approaches and results. The projects that have participated were PERSEUS, DARIUS, ICARUS, BRIDGE, AKRITAS, AIRBEAM, SUNNY, EWISA, DISASTER, and JASON.
• IUSAR Workshop 2014 : the workshop on Intelligent Autonomous Unmanned Search and Rescue Tools (IUSAR) was organized to collaborate and exchange between projects concerned with disaster response topics. Most projects involved in security and civil protection calls funded under the FP7 program were present.
• ILA Berlin Air Show 2014 : AIRBEAM was present with its own exhibition space in the UAS pavilion for a whole week to professionals and the public. Supported by flyers, posters, a roll-up, slideshows and simulations a detailed inside into the project was given. In parallel the 2nd edition of the UAS Workshop on Applications and Research & Development has been organised. During the 2 days workshop, around 25 to 35 people participated.
• IEEE GLOBECOM Workshop Wi-UAV 2014 : the workshop has the same scope as in 2012 and brought together researchers from wireless networking and control of unmanned autonomous vehicles. The international workshop was attended by about 25 people.
• CivRPAS Conference, Brussels, Belgium 2014 : the European Civil RPAS Operators Forum is an international conference for the RPAS community focusing on the implementation of the European RPAS Roadmap, national regulatory matters, insurance, privacy & data protection, civil RPAS operational matters, current & future applications [commercial, non-commercial (corporate, governmental nonmilitary)], current bottlenecks, technical and performance requirements, aerial work customer requirements, novel operations, operational experience & lessons learned. Panel discussions were a unique opportunity for active interaction between panel members and the audience. The presentations and panel topics have broadened the awareness of current and potential RPAS operators, their current & potential customers, regulatory authorities & manufacturers.
• Astech RPAS 1st International Conference, Paris France 2015 : the ASTech Paris Region Competitiveness cluster, in coordination with its organizing partners (Aerospace Valley, Pole Pégase & UVS International), organised a non-classified international technology conference. The conference focused on ongoing technology developments and research that was of benefit to the RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) community (all sizes of RPAS), and specifically RPAS for civil use, in order to anticipate the setting-up of industrial reference standards allowing certification of these RPAS, as well as their insertion into the European ATM (Air Traffic Management) System.
• 9th EARSeL SIG Imaging Spectroscopy workshop, Luxemburg 2015 : EARSeL’s Special Interest Group on Imaging Spectroscopy aims to encourage international discussions among specialists working with innovative Earth Observation technologies. The 9th meeting of EARSeL’s Special Interest Group on Imaging Spectroscopy, jointly organized by Trier University and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST, former CRP - Gabriel Lippmann), built on the 8 previous successful workshops, was held in Luxembourg in April 2015. The workshop covered all themes related to imaging spectroscopy. Hyperspectral remote sensing had started to move from a largely airborne to a fully spaceborne capability with the development of a number of satellite spectrometers, which would be launched in the next few years.
• European Civil Protection Forum 2015 : the 5th European Civil Protection Forum took place in Brussels in May 2015. It brought together close to 900 participants from governments, academia, civil protection authorities, first emergency responders, international organisations, European Institutions and stakeholders. The 2015 Forum featured a two-day conference and an exhibition under the central theme of Partnership and Innovation. The Partnership theme focused on strengthening cooperation between representatives of the European and UN institutions and authorities around the world, but also new partners, such as private companies, NGOs, academia, and scientific institutions. The Innovation theme was about new technologies (such as unmanned aerial systems, social media, security, smart cities), as well as the links with research and development, and innovative ways of engaging with communities and various organisations.
• DRIVER Workshop on Innovation for Crisis Management, Marseille, France 2015 : the workshop gathered together more than 120 participants from over 15 countries. The event aimed to support the comprehensive approach to crisis management (CM) adopted by the project, by involving people from all major CM functions in Europe and beyond. As there are a number of CM communities representing different professional actors (fire fighters, paramedics, police, customs, foreign affairs, authorities, policy makers, etc.), I4CM provided an opportunity to identify, for each community, the nodes and opinion leaders or key representatives and further involve them as contributors to DRIVER. The conference was organized as a series of keynote speeches and panel discussions to stimulate discussions and debates. Speakers at the workshop included representatives from EU institutions (DG ECHO, FRONTEX, DG HOME), national authorities (from France, Israel, Slovakia and Sweden) as well as regional and provincial authorities. Several communities of end users (including first responders, fire fighters, NGOs, police, justice), academics and technology suppliers were also represented.
• IEEE GLOBECOM Workshop Wi-UAV 2015 : the GLOBECOM Wi-UAV workshop has become a unique, interdisciplinary platform to bring together two communities working on wireless networking, control and positioning of UAVs. The control/robotics/aerospace research community is increasingly addressing the collaboration of UAVs requiring reliable wireless while the communication research community develops new communication systems and protocols, which need to be designed according to and validated with the challenging requirements of the control/robotics research. The international workshop was attended by about 35 people.
• AIRBEAM Presentations to Belgian Government : a presentation was given to the Federal Minister of Mobility Mrs. Gallant, to the Belgian Federal Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Employment. Mr. Kris Peteers and also to the Belgian Federal Minister for Interior Affairs Mr. Jan Jambon.

Finally, the project 2 live demonstrations have also been great opportunities to promote the project activities and to connect to end-users and the civil society through the media coverage.
• AIRBEAM Demonstration in Belgium
The Belgian validation exercise took place on June 20th 2015. The exercise started at 7h30 am and last for more than 7 hours.
Different sub-scenarios were organized at three main locations within a distance of approximatively 30 km. The validation exercise was based on a large scale disaster (major storm) combined with different other scenario to enhance at maximum the complexity of the exercise. The philosophy was to combine different intervention scales (local, regional and (inter-) national) and different type of exercises: damage assessment, search and rescue, mono and multi-disciplinary interventions.

The main end-users in the validation exercise was the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA (United Nations) that came to Belgium and have installed an OSOCC (On-Site Operations Coordination Center) at Campus Vesta to support and manage the relief interventions at Day+2 after a major storm.
• AIRBEAM Demonstration in Portugal
The Portuguese demonstration took place at Beja Airforce airbase N11, during the morning of October 8th, 2015.
The context of the demo was a law enforcement scenario validation, with the following main tasks given to the AIRBEAM system:
o perimeter surveillance
o road and accident check
o fire and suspect detection
o control and management of the situation
o interface with the end user

The main end-users in the validation exercise was the Guarda Nacional Republicana.

The two AIRBEAM live demonstrations in Belgium and Portugal served as unique opportunities for the project to grasp the interest of the end-user community and communicate directly with end-users and stakeholders. Both of these events were characterised by the large number of participants and their interest for the project innovative concepts and technological solutions.

Exploitation of results

As a general outcome, within the scope of crisis management and law enforcement, the project will provide official public users from Member States means to assess the technical solutions provided by unmanned aerial platforms and to specify their own needs.

For the short term, at least two direct activities are already on track :
• The software that has been further developed during the project and used for the live demonstrations will be improved with additional functionalities. It will be used either as a service or a product. It’s worth noting that a light version of the tool has already been used in the framework of a FRONTEX deployment in November and December 2015.
• The prototype of a compact hyperspectral imaging system compactible with small RPAS and the related processing algorithms developed partly within the project will be soon industrialised.

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