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 initiative PLANET will experiment the application of unmanned aircrafts for the monitoring and environmental surveillance in Doñana

CATEC is currently participating in the PLANET Project, belonging to the EU VII Framework Programme, for the integration of UAVs with wireless sensor networks to monitor and to take decisions in matters of environment conservation

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The initiative PLANET will experiment the application of unmanned aircrafts for the monitoring and environmental surveillance in Doñana
It involves the development of new technologies for planned trajectories, UAVs guidance and control, which let them optimize data collected from the sensors adapting UAV’s trajectories to the evolution of the phenomenon which is been watched –environmental pollution, animal movements- and also to display new sensors to improve monitoring,

This research is part of the European Project PLANET, financed by VII Framework Programme, with a budget around 7 millions Euro and which is also granted by 4,9 millions Euro from the European Commission.  

Pioneering results of this research will represent a novelty in the international sphere. Tests will be carried out at the nearby Doñana Parc, getting advantage of this Singular Scientific and Technological Infrastructure, where there will be experimented advances that results of this research may mean for the conservation of protected spaces of special environmental value and, in general, for the pollution fight and environmental defence. This phase of the experimentation will be carried out in 2012 and 2013. The project is currently in the phase of system design and methods research to be tested.

Besides its application in environment conservation, this project has a second scenario of application on airports automation. In this sense, more experiments are expected to be carried out at the ATLAS Experimental Flights Centre in Jaén, which is promoted by FADA-CATEC, and that strength not only the leading role of our country but also the Andalusian leading role in this European project, which has also the participation of AICIA-University of Seville, the Doñana Biologic Station of the Spanish National Research Council, Boeing Research and Technology Europe and ETRA. Apart from these five institutions, together with the consortium in charge of developing these projects there are 7 more partners from Germany, UK, Italy and Belgium.

PLANET project uses results from the finished AWARE Project of the VI Framework Programme, coordinated by the scientific director of CATEC, Aníbal Ollero. Some of the results obtained then about the display of sensors with autonomous helicopters will be applied in unmanned autonomous aircrafts, such us Viewer and X-Vision, both belonging to CATEC.


June 22nd 2011
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