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


Topological Optimization for light weighting aerostructures by additive manufacturing

Through this process, CATEC has already achieved major reductions of weight in demonstrators components of some space launchers from the European Space Agency

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Topological Optimization for light weighting aerostructures by additive manufacturing
Our center makes available to the aerospace sector a new service that enables to achieve the topological optimization of parts and structures, reaching large reductions in weight and structural mass but maintaining their properties and mechanical requirements.

CATEC is working with Airbus Defence & Space (Space Systems, Madrid) in a project for the European Space Agency which has enabled the structural optimization of the connector of support for the payload adapter (ACU) of a space launcher.

These new applications, developed through the additive manufacturing technology, provide even more optimization than through the improvement of the design and engineering using the conventional methods of manufacturing. In particular, the advances developed by CATEC have enabled to reduce the mass of this connector in a 62.9 %, following an iterative process that has given rise to various intermediate solutions. The latter represents a reduction of 0.285 kg in weight of the piece, which translates into a cost savings (in terms of cargo for payment) of more than 5,000 euros per unit.

In addition, among others proven benefits, the topological optimization presents an enormous potential in secondary structure, and in medium term for use in structural components with relevant applications. If you want to know more about this new service, you can contact the area of Materials and Processes (

December 31st 2014
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