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


Shearografia Laser: state-of-the-art technology for real-time inspections of materials and components

This technique is used to inspect adhesive-bonded joints in carbon fibre, sandwich panels with carbon fibre-reinforced polymer very common in Aeronautics

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Shearografia Laser: state-of-the-art technology for real-time inspections of materials and components
Among the variety of technologies carried out by CATEC, there is the Laser Shearography (LS) an optic interferometry method providing real-time important inspection results which is being positively used in sectors like Aeronautics, Energy and Naval, among others.

This technology uses the coherent, monochromatic properties of laser light to generate speckle patterns. The component to be inspected is illuminated by the laser. The surface reflects the light creating a speckle pattern at the viewing plane, which can be processed to provide information such as the presence of defects, material degradation or residual stress. The system records the speckle pattern from an unstressed component surface. The surface is then stressed and a new speckle pattern generated, recorded and stored.

The computer subtracts the speckle patterns from each other, thus forming an image made up of series of characteristic black and white fringes, representing the surface strain in the area of interest. If a defect such as a void or disbond exists, this will affect the surface strain and the defect can be revealed by the fringe pattern developed.

By applying a small load, the material will deform. A nonuniform material quality will generate a nonuniform movement of the surface of the test object. A new shearing image is recorded at the loaded state and is compared with the sheared image before load. If a flaw is present, it will be seen. Particularly, the LS technique is used to inspect adhesive-bonded joints, sandwich panels with carbon fibre-reinforced polymer very common in Aeronautics.

This NDT techniques is non-contact and can by applied in several industrial sectors for the detection of surface and subsurface defects, and can be also applied to a wide range of materials (like composites and metals). They also allow the inspection of large areas and detects failures, flaws, indentations and cracks by impacts originated while repairing, etc.

This technology is at the interested entities and companies’ disposal. For further information, you can contact Fernando Lasagni, responsible for the Area of Materials and Processes.

May 29th 2012
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