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

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Universities and international research centres participated at the II International Tournament of Air and Land Robots of the European Robotics League


CATEC was the organizer of this important competition, in which the latest innovative robotic systems from France, Poland, the United Kingdom, Croatia and Saudi Arabia were presented


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Universities and research and technological centres of the international scope met in Seville last February to participate in the II Local Tournament of the European Robotics League (ERL Emergency), a competition funded by the Horizon 2020 program of the European Union in which different teams of engineers and scientists linked to robotics and unmanned aerial systems (drones) have presented their latest innovations in the application of these technologies for use in emergency situations, such as rescue operations, fires, natural catastrophes, etc.

CATEC has been commissioned to host and organize this international competition unique in Europe, and that has been developed for the first time in Spain, thanks to its leadership and experience in the development of new technological applications in this field

has been commissioned to host and organize this international competition, unique in Europe and that has been developed for the first time in Spain, thanks to its leadership and experience in the development of new technological applications in this field. The participating entities were the École Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées (ENSTA ParisTech) from Paris, France; the Laboratory for Robotics and Intelligent Control Systems (LARICS) of the University of Zagreb, Croatia; the Lodz University of Technology, Poland; King Abdullah University of Science and Technology; the University of Bath (United Kingdom) and ENSTA Bretagne, France.To bring these technologies closer to their real application in the market in the coming years, during the days of the competition attended as a public several representatives of emergency services that could benefit from the use of these robots for their professional activity (police, firefighters, health emergencies, etc.).

The competition consisted mainly in developing tasks under the recreation of an emergency situation, which involved, among other issues, that the land and aerial robots access a specific area, detecting and avoiding fixed and mobile obstacles, delivering a first aid kit to a person (mannequin) and create a 3D map of the full area explored. The winning team, which passed the tests and achieved the best score in the overall calculation of the exercises, was the Laboratory for Robotics and Intelligent Control Systems (LARICS) of the University of Zagreb, who also won the prize for the best land robot. For its part, the best aerial robot was deployed by the KAUST team from King Abdullah University in Saudi Arabia, while the best pilot was awarded to the RAPTORS team from the University of Lodz, Poland.

During ERL Emergency 2019, there was a special prize awarded by the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) to the best application for the positioning accuracy of robots that make use of solutions based on Galileo and EGNOS navigation systems, whose winner was the KAUST team. In addition, the SESAR Joint Undertaking awarded another special prize to recognise technological innovations to ensure the safe access to airspace for drones or aerial robots, in support of the European Commission's U-space initiative. The winner in this challenge was the Bath Drones team, from the University of Bath.

The initiative was a success, not only for the quality and innovation of the participating robots and teams, but also for the experience of exchange of ideas and knowledge and the coexistence developed during these days between the teams and the CATEC organizing team. Congratulations to all!




April 25th 2019
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