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Technological European Research for RPAS in ATM

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - TERRA (Technological European Research for RPAS in ATM)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2020-02-29

TERRA Project is focused on identifying ground-based technologies and the associated architecture required to support very low-level (VLL) drone operations. Currently, U-space services are being defined to support continuous drone operations, but the proposal of services will only be effective if there are sound technical systems supporting these services.

The results of TERRA research will benefit the society by identifying the most adequate technologies to support a safe deployement of U-Space services.

The main project objectives are the following:
• Requirements identification: A set of operational and functional ground-based system requirements has been defined for three representative RPAS operational business cases, considering operator requirements but also potential impact on stakeholders. The main steps to carry out this objective are as follows:
o Identification of the operational requirements both for RPAS operators and stakeholders (e.g. VFR operators including manned GA, airports, and broader communities) in terms of ground-based systems support.
o Description of the performance and functional requirements of ground systems, both in normal operation, including B-VLOS, and in contingencies.

• Technological applicability: Analysis of applicability of existing CNS/ATM technologies which could be applied to UTM, identification and development of new technologies and analysis of their applicability, considering in both cases the performance provided by these technologies with the requirements imposed for their use. The main steps will be:
o Identification and analysis of applicability of existing CNS/ATM technologies and tools for RPAS operation.
o Identification and analysis of applicability of new technologies for RPAS, including the development of machine learning algorithms for early detection and classification of flight path deviations.
o Assessment of the applicability to RPAS, of the analysed technologies and tools, including individual simulations.

• Architecture proposal and proof of concept: Identification of the most appropriate technologies, comparing their performance and applicability with the user requirements and definition of a technical architecture, which will be evaluated by means of a proof of concept demonstration. The main steps will be:
o Development of a gap analysis between the performance and functionalities required and the proposed technologies.
o Ground-based systems architecture proposal and integration of technologies to meet the requirements, including displays
o Integrated system proof of concept demonstration, as an initial evaluation of the operational suitability of the proposed architecture and systems.
During the first reporting period the TERRA consortium has been focused on identifying the users needs, in terms of ground systems infrastructure, to support safe, effective and efficient VLL drone operations in very environment and traffic density. Requirements have been gathered from drone operators, but also from VFR aviation, to assure their compatibility. Additionally, requirements from other stakeholders (regulators, law enforcement, air navigation service providers, etc.) have also been considered.
These operational requirements have been then translated into functional and non-functional requirements (i.e. what the ground systems have to do) and they have been validated in a workshop, and also coordinated with other sibling projects.

In parallel, existing technologies have been analysed (navigation, surveillance, air-ground and ground-ground communications and DTM computing) to identify the performances provided by each system (accuracy, update rate, availability, integrity and current deployment) as a basis to identify their ability to meet the functional requirements identified. Also new technologies are being explored, in particular, machine learning techniques to aid both monitoring of nominal VLL UAS operations, as well as early detection of off-nominal (trajectory deviation) conditions.

During the second reporting period, new potential technologies have also been explored and a gap analysis between requirements and technologies has been performed. Based on the conclusions of the gap analysis the TERRA consortium then elaborated the most suitable combination of technologies for each of the three business cases. The identification of suitable technologies was performed on a case-by-case basis as the requirements differ depending on the business case.

Conclusions on CNS architecture and feasibility are different for the short-term (already available and ready-to-deploy technologies) and for the long-term (technologies under development and that will be available in the future – 2025+). As a general framework, TERRA conclusions are focussed on standard multirotor of less than 1 m width and below 4kg of Maximum Take-Off Mass. In the future (2025+), new technologies (e.g. 5G, Galileo, etc.) will provide more robust services and will be the basis for a full U-space deployment. But in any case, the development of complex drone operations in a high drone density environment will require the integration of several technological solutions, to provide the required robustness and systems performances that assure the safety of these operations.
Main conclusions of TERRA are related to the maturity of the analysis ground CNS capabilities, which are also recommended to be included as part of the U-space capabilities, the feasibility of the proposed architectures and the results of performance assessments through simulations and live trials.
TERRA will provide a thorough identification of requirements and assessment of applicability of existing and new technologies in order to propose a ground systems architecture that will significantly facilitate the effective implementation of RPAS operations carried out mainly B-VLOS.

Outcomes from the project will provide a clear identification of the required infrastructure to support VLL RPAS operations, thus enabling and enhancing safety and consequently creating safe operational conditions for the generalised use of RPAS in uncontrolled airspace, but which could be applied also to controlled airspace, with a myriad of applications and substantial economic growth impact. The project will also facilitate an overview of the technological development required to achieve this conditions, based on the results of the gap analysis performed in WP5.1 paving the way for the standardisation and industrial development of these technologies.

Results and proof-of-concept conclusions (WP6) will serve as a basis on which to identify in advance which technologies and methodologies will be needed for a full implementation of the VLL RPAS environment, avoiding potential risks of technology obsolescence, due to that fact that the proposed technology architecture aims to cover all stakeholders’ requirements in the near future.
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