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 develops a delay-tolerant network protocol for the communication between aircrafts in the Single European Sky

Together with Deimos, AWD and the Autónoma University of Barcelona, CATEC has started up an initiative of industrial research, PROSES: Network Protocol for the Single European Sky, which will allow expanding the capacity and the reliability of existing communications and enabling the integration of all users in the future single European airspace

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CATEC develops a delay-tolerant network protocol for the communication between aircrafts in the Single European Sky
Forty years ago, in 1969, the first connection between two computers took place, giving birth to what we nowadays call the Internet: a global network of interconnected computers, allowing users to share all kind of information. The same way that these two computers became million all over the world, the Internet nodes are no longer static to become dynamic objects: wireless mobile phones or portable PCs connected to a global network.

Such paradigm change can be observed in all stages of our society, so much so that Internet is evolving towards a future that will fill all the gaps, both on ground, in the air and in the space. The integration of both manned and unmanned air vehicles in the network is no longer Sci-Fi, but an emerging reality. Military systems integrate data links that will allow them to interact with communication nodes in distributed networks. Furthermore, the civil aviation is getting ready for a change in the current telecommunications scenario with the introduction and start up of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR). SESAR foresees a massive use of data transmissions between aerial systems, ground systems and satellites. The aircrafts will act as any other node of this network.

In many circumstances, the integrity of the network or communications systems of the aircraft will not allow continuous point-to-point connections. Therefore, it is necessary to design new communication protocols allowing the exchange of information in degraded connection environments, which, on their turn, would be integrated in the Internet, that is to say, that would not need to be independently modeled but taking profit from the huge potentiality that means the experience of the Internet community. Such protocols will allow expanding the capacity and reliability of existing communications, and will enable the integration of all users in the future European single airspace. That is the purpose of the Center working on the industrial research initiative “PROSES”: Network Protocol for the Single European Sky. CATEC participates on this project -together with Deimos, AWD and the Autónoma University of Barcelona- to analyze, design and implement a delay-tolerant network protocol (DTN) for the communication between aircrafts, both manned and unmanned.

July 29th 2011
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