The future of drones

The aviation and technology sectors have undergone a revolution with new applications and technologies related to unmanned aerial systems, commonly called drones (UAS / UAV / RPAS). Not only because of the new possibilities of business and commercial activity that have opened in the civil market, both for large companies and for, especially, SMEs traditionally linked to the aeronautical sector, but also for new uses and applications that are already developing for this type of aircraft.

Agriculture, security or industry are just examples of some of the productive sectors of our economy where drone use is already being experienced and applied, but they are not the only ones and there will be many more. In CATEC we have been working since the beginning in research and development to promote the transfer of this technology to companies, as well as with civil and regulatory authorities in a new framework that helps to define and regulate flights and uses with this type of aircraft.

In this issue we talk specifically about two new milestones related to drones in which we have participated successfully and that make us look optimistically at the future of this sector. On the one hand, we have welcomed into our ATLAS Center in Villacarrillo, Jaen the first U-Space demonstration with drones in Spain, held under the DOMUS project, which has been a preliminary test before DOMUS final demonstrations to be held in September to testing a complete integration of drones into the airspace, participating with other aircraft. On the other hand, in recent months we have hosted different tests of the EGNSS4RPAS project for the standardization of unmanned aircraft at European level, which has sought to demonstrate the usefulness of the European positioning systems Galileo and EGNOS for drone operations. These tests have included a recent one carried out in the urban environment of the same town of Villacarrillo, given the proximity to our ATLAS center, and which have been another important milestone as it was the first in all of Europe that has followed the methodology included in the new European regulations of drones, recently approved .

In conclusion, we are in a sector of continuous technological advances that make the future of drones very promising, and that it must be integrated into the new national and Andalusian strategies for the aerospace sector development, although linked also to other sectors-, and articulated as a key element to continue promoting the growth of the productive fabric and the increase of the competitiveness of the industry and the economy in Spain and Andalusia.

Joaquín Rodríguez Grau
Director of CATEC


CATEC and CiTD develop components in 3D printing for the new CHEOPS satellite of the European Space Agency

Both entities have developed a set of bionic flight parts with a weight reduction of 50%, which allow the connection to the lifting system of the solar panels of the satellite

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CATEC has collaborated with the Spanish engineering company CiTD in the design, development and manufacture of new aerospace components for the new CHEOPS satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA) that will be launched into space at the beginning of 2019. In particular, they have developed parts key of the mechanism that allows to connect the lifting tool of the solar panels that has said satellite.

Due to the processes of assembly and integration, the tools of this mechanism are blocked after the assembly, which supposes an important penalty for the satellite weight. For this reason, CATEC and CiTD have developed a set of 8 pieces of bionic flight through the technology of additive manufacturing (3D printing), which has led to a 50% reduction in weight and an optimization in the design of said component.

The pieces have been manufactured in the facilities of our Center, which has also been responsible for inspection and verification, while CiTD has been responsible for the definition and justification under ESA standards. The entire set of parts was delivered to the Spanish delegation of Airbus Defense & Space, which is the main contractor of the CHEOPS satellite and which completed its integration in recent weeks.

Fernando Lasagni, head of the Materials and Processes Division of CATEC, indicated that the manufacture of this piece means "a further leap in the real application of additive manufacturing to the aerospace sector, where our center has become an international reference thanks to the production of pieces of this type both for the space industry, in shuttles and rockets, and for the aviation industry, already integrated into civilian and military aircraft ".

CHEOPS (Characterizing Exoplanet Satellite) is the first scientific satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA) developed and manufactured in Spain and its objective is to study, for at least three and a half years, the movements of exoplanets that orbit around nearby bright stars beyond the Solar System, and analyze its characteristics.

October 30th 2018
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