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

Editorial

The “Factory of the Future concrete”: with feet on the ground in aerospace sector



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We all know that over the next 20 years, the forecast for the sector are very positive: 35,000 new aircraft will be needed and will make a turnover of more than five billion dollars ($ 5.000.000.000). But: who will participate in that business? Will we be us? Will be the companies in Andalusia? How will be our participation?

In those 5 billion must be Andalusia, but the truth is this big business is only for the most competitive companies in the world. That is why now the focus should be on being more competitive in manufacturing, and here comes the need to apply new formulas to manufacturing challenges: a change of paradigm, the Factory of the Future or Industry 4.0.

For ten years, in CATEC we have been providing solutions based on additive manufacturing (commonly known as 3D printing). We already have pieces that will fly in space launchers from the European Space Agency, and will form part of the primary structure of satellites. And we have designed and manufactured them with this technology that should begin to enter into machining companies in Andalusia, because are already being introduced by German companies and other aerospace regions.

In CATEC today we design and manufacture tools with additive manufacturing available in 72 hours for some companies in Andalusia, but we are already studying what aircraft parts are easier to manufacture, and tomorrow will be more profitable to “print” small and complex parts than machine them. We are focused on improving manufacturing technologies, the famous “Factory of the Future”, and we do designing flexible and automated inspection systems, for example with active thermography, or 100% functional and industrial systems to leakages inspection by computer vision.

We provide solutions for monitoring the curing of composite parts during the actual curing phase in the autoclave. We are also very involved with our companies to automate their processes (drilling, sealant application, painting, welding), because we deeply know complexity in aeronautical processes. In this industry we manufacture small series and we are interested in collaborative robots with very fast programming or low cost humanoid robots.

Last five years we have developed laser projection systems to help operators in assembly processes. And, of course, we are working on the production control in real time and communicate with enterprise systems (RFID or beacons) to generate and exploit wide amounts of data oriented to provide useful information for the control of factories.

We have many things clear, for example, that productivity can be increased with support systems to assembly processes based on augmented reality (with light projection, for example). It also seems clear that there is a great future in simulating maintenance processes or the simulation from the design phase to ensure that an aircraft will be maintainable at a reasonable cost.

I am convinced that most of those 5 billion dollars will be for early adopters of the new manufacturing paradigm.

Joaquín Rodríguez Grau
CATEC Director Manager


February 16th 2016
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Also in this section:

The future of drones - 09/09/2019

Growing abroad - 04/25/2019

Good forecasts - 02/01/2019

In good health - 07/10/2018

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