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


The ARCAS project has carried out the first aerial manipulations with robotic arms added to different unmanned aircrafts

The initiative, which has already completed its second year of work, has also achieved another milestones, as the development of new control methods to coordinate real-time trajectories of these aircraft

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The European project ARCAS, led by CATEC in collaboration with the University of Seville, advances in the development of new tests and technologies of robotics manipulation trough unmanned aerial vehicles that represent a significant milestone for the field of robotics and unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The objective of this initiative, which has already completed its second year of work, is to develop new methods of control and coordination between UAS that integrate robotic arms to cooperative assembly of structures.

After defining the specifications and system architecture, the initiative has already achieved the development of several prototype robotic arms on board UAS, with whom they have managed to make the first aerial manipulations in the world with an arm with multiple degrees of freedom, both indoors and outdoors. They have also developed various prototypes and control methods needed to coordinate real-time trajectories of these aircraft, avoiding collisions with each other and also in environments with unexpected obstacles.

Other work carried out successfully under the ARCAS project has been gripping tests of robotic arms implanted in the UAS with metal bars and its transport and assembly with two simultaneous connectors. The objectives for the second part of the project will mainly focus on the development of an integrated planning of cooperative assembly with air handlers so that they can act and work in simulated industrial environments.

For further information, you can contact with Anibal Ollero, professor at the University of Seville, CATEC’s scientific advisor and coordinator of ARCAS project, in the email

February 26th 2014
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