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 EADS CASA-Espacio launch a project to develop new manufacturing technologies for space components

The project, called ALM, is part of the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP) of the European Space Agency (ESA) on new technologies for next-generation space launchers

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CATEC and EADS CASA-Espacio launch a project to develop new manufacturing technologies for space components
CATEC and EADS CASA-Espacio, company of Astrium group, have launched a new European project called ALM intended to improve the maturity level of additive manufacturing technology (Additive Layer Manufacturing or Rapid Manufacturing) for the production of pieces and metal parts for the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP) of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The materials and manufacturing processes play a key role in improving the reliability and the reduction of costs of the new generation of space launchers. ALM technology is based on the manufacture of components in layers, so that the objects are created by a 3D CAD model, which is sectioned into thin layers using a laser system which melts and binds the metal in powder form. All this without doing any machining work during the manufacturing process, which provides significant advantages compared to other conventional machining processes, such as the possibility of making impossible geometries through other methods.

The ALM project has five major objectives: to make a detailed state of the art technology in terms of manufacturing possibilities, accuracy, mechanical properties, etc.; to identify potential components into current space shuttles for the manufacturing of components with structural requirements; to achieve the level of maturation of the technology through a manufacturing and testing plan facing the objectives of the ESA for 2016; to develop and produce technological demonstrators to evaluate the feasibility of the manufacture of space shuttles components through ALM; and to evaluate the benefits or disadvantages of using this technology, with the materials available and the potential applications in future launchers and the new generation of space hardware.

The initiative was launched last April and will be developed along the next 18 months. The project team is coordinated by Jorge Vilanova (EADS CASA-Espacio) and Fernando Lasagni (CATEC), technical directors of the project. By CATEC also participate Amadis Zorrilla (attached to the technical manager) and Antonio Periñán and Santos Tudela, mainly responsibles for the manufacturing activities and non-destructive testing and mechanical characterization of prototypes. By EADS CASA-Espacio, also participate Pilar Romera (attached to technical manager), J.A. Butragueño, J. Pascual, A. Ayuso and J. Rivas, who are mainly responsible for the technical issues related to components’ specifications and design, and testing. The team is completed by Andreas Tesch, technical manager of the project by the European Space Agency.

September 30th 2013
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