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 European initiative ARCAS, that CATEC leads, celebrates its first year of development with excellent results

Between the works performed in the annuity, the European Commission evaluators particularly appreciated the demonstrations with UAV's provided of robotic arms in structures assembly tasks

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The European initiative ARCAS, that CATEC leads, celebrates its first year of development with excellent results
ARCAS, the project of the Seventh Framework Programme of the EU that CATEC leads in the field of robotics and unmanned aircrafts systems (UAV's), has successfully closed its first year of work fulfilling the assigned tasks in its program. In these first twelve months, the participating entities have worked in various essential aspects for the implementation of the initiative, which focuses on the development and experimental validation of the first aerial robot system equipped with robotic manipulators working cooperatively to develop combined applications such as the maintenance and assembly of structures in inaccessible places or that suppose important risk for people.

Specifically, the initiative has passed the first review of the European Commission in which there were presented the results obtained in this exercise and that were very well received by reviewers. Among the most important results there was the demonstration of the first control algorithms in quadrotors equipped with the first prototypes of robotic arms developed. These robotic arms will be incorporated into other unmanned aircrafts systems that will act in a coordinated way in different applications such as the construction of tubular structures for various applications, like the construction of structures in difficult places and in space. In this first year, we have also made the system specifications as well as new methods of perception, planning and control of the various robotic elements.

The ARCAS project is carried out by a consortium of eight partners from different European countries (Spain, Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland) coordinated by CATEC and with the participation of other Spanish institutions such as the University of Seville and the University of Catalonia. ARCAS has a budget of 8.2 million euros, of which 6.2 million are funded by the European Union. The budget for the Spanish participation in the project is about 3.1 million (38% of total), of which 2.5 million are financed by the EU.

For more information visit the project website

June 10th 2013
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