Wednesday, May 18

They rehearse in Valencia the first massive and simultaneous flight of drones in Europe


The Polytechnic University of Valencia has carried out this Tuesday the first massive and simultaneous flight of drones in Europe, controlled and monitored in real time in an area of ​​15 square kilometers, and has presented an innovative platform that helps to avoid collisions in space aerial. These tests, which are part of the European project BUBBLES, coordinated by the ITACA Institute of the UPV, seek to guarantee the safe integration of drones, with an eye on the new European regulations for drone airspace management, which will enter in force next year.

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In total, fourteen drones have flown simultaneously, all of them managed by the BUBBLES platform, which has allowed them to be controlled and monitored in real time in the flight zone, an area of ​​15 km2 between the Valencian towns of Puçol and El Puig. Although the tests have been carried out in a rural environment, due to current regulations, this scenario would be representative of drone operations in any European urban environment in the coming years, reports the UPV.

Each of the drones have carried out flights simultaneously with simulations of real applications: traffic surveillance, maritime rescue, search and rescue, freight transport, precision agriculture, industrial inspections. While the drones were flying, the BUBBLES platform detected possible conflicts due to loss of separation, sending alerts to the pilots involved so that they did not collide.

The European regulation that regulates the provision of U-space services was approved in April 2021 and will be fully applicable in January 2023 and from this date, drones in Europe must comply with this regulation, to guarantee safe and efficient operations, explains Juan Vicente Balbastre, researcher at ITACA UPV and coordinator of the BUBBLES project. Thus, the tests carried out by the university want to anticipate this scenario, and they are also the ones with “the highest density of drones flying simultaneously of all those that have been carried out so far in Europe”, adds the researcher.

Balbastre explains that what BUBBLES does is generate safety bubbles around each drone, based on algorithms that calculate the risk of collision in real time. In the event that this risk exists, the platform is even capable of proposing an evasive maneuver to the pilots, taking into account their position, as well as that of the drones that are in what is known as a tactical conflict, Israel Quintanilla pointed out. President of the UPV Drone Commission and also a member of the UPV team in the BUBBLES project.

The objective of this exercise was to validate the management of the separation in these places –the vertiports–, which will be the takeoff and landing points of the drones in the cities for the transport of diverse merchandise and passengers.

In the tests carried out this morning, the use of a vertiport was also simulated, from which nine drones with various missions took off and landed again along a vertical corridor monitored by small radar antennas. “The objective of this exercise was to validate the management of the separation in these places -the vertiports-, which will be the takeoff and landing points of the drones in the cities for the transport of diverse merchandise and passengers”, explained Quintanilla.

Representatives of the Local Police and Fire Department of Valencia, Benidorm Local Police, the Pegaso team of the Civil Guard, the Valencian Agency for Security and Emergency Response (AVSRE), specialized companies from the sector (ASD drones, UAV Works, AsDrón Spain), and the UPV’s own operators.

The Institute of Automation and Industrial Informatics (ai2) and the Department of Cartographic Engineering, Geodesy and Photogrammetry also participate in the project, and the BUBBLES consortium is completed by the University of Coimbra, the Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, the European Organization for Air Navigation Safety (EUROCONTROL) and Indra, a world leader in air traffic management.



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