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

Technology

Structural Health Monitoring (SHM)


CATEC is a specialist in this technology and has developed some solutions and tools for its implementation in service in aerospace industry


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SHM is a set of techniques aimed to minoring the health of structures during their useful life. This monitoring detects some changes in the material or in the geometric conditions of the system that may negatively affect their qualities.

This process is organized in four levels:

1) Determination the presence of damages in the structure.
(2) Geometric location of the damage.
(3) Quantification of the intensity.
(4) Prediction of the remaining life of the analyzed element.

In order to perform all these actions it is required a network of sensors distributed on the structure under examination and connected to a central system that provides real-time information on the state of the component, such as fiber optic technology and FBG sensors.

The FBG (Fiber Bragg Grating) sensors basically consist of a "marking" that is included directly on the lines of optical fiber (marked of Bragg). The behavior of the Bragg sensors is analogous to that of a filter, that is, it reflects a certain wavelength of light that illuminates the optical fiber and lets the rest pass. By changing the wavelength reflected by the sensor it is possible to determine the deformation state to which the structure is subjected. In addition, the same fiber optic line can contain up to about 40-60 sensors, drastically reducing the number of lines to be used to monitor various points on the structure.

CATEC is a specialist in this technology and has developed some solutions and tools for its implementation in service. The technology is available for both the sensing and monitoring of various structures and for the monitoring of structural tests.

Sources: CATEC (FERNANDEZ R., GUTIERREZ N., JIMENEZ H., MARTIN F., RUBIO L., JIMENEZ-VICARIA J., PAULOTTO C., LASAGNI F.: On the Structural Testing Monitoring of CFRP cockpit and concrete/CFRP pillar by FBG sensors, Advanced Engineering Materials, Volume 18, Issue 7, 1289-1298, 2016.)

For more information about this technology, you can contact to Materials & Processes: materiales@catec.aero



April 18th 2017
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