Manning air traffic can be challenging at times, however with the testing of the latest new U-Space Concept it could be completely transformed and managed much more efficiently. Droniq state that ‘In the future, drones will have their own kind of traffic system. This will allow flights in areas with a high volume of drones to be carried out easily, safely and in coordination with manned air traffic.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency, better known as the EASA, is the driving force behind the new concept which ‘EU member states are to implement by the beginning of 2023’ (Droniq,2021).
The U-Space Sandbox is being built in the port of Hamburg, Germany.
Who is trialling Europe’s U-Space?
“Droniq offers a solution that integrates drones safely and sustainably into airspace and enables flights beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) by providing a UAS traffic management system (UTM) based on innovative mobile communications technology.”
There is a continuing surge in commercial drone use across the globe. Drones are used in the commercial drone industry for purposes such as inspections, surveying, construction, and conservation. Drone flights that be conducted with ease and of short notice is highly desirable and efficient due to the common nature of drone flying… It can be a long process to seek flight approval and in areas with a high volume of drones and challenging to conduct drone flights at such short notice!
Europe’s new U-Space
U-Space is a spatially delimited air space element. The German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BVI) are partly funding the drone project.
‘The project has a volume of approximately one million euros… The project will create a perspective for the future. In this way, the BMVI is creating the basis for the implementation of further U-Spaces in Germany and thus promoting the further development of the local drone market” (Droniq, 2021).
The project, U-Space, has been designed to help against such challenges of drone flights that are not easy nor feasible. Therefore, the new U-Space’s ‘Special rules and procedures coordinate drone traffic and make it possible to carry out drone flights quickly, safely and without a long approval process – even beyond the pilot’s line of sight.’
Droniq CEO, Jan-Eric Putze said: “In the future, U-Space will also allow the full potential of drones to be exploited in urban areas within an established framework.
“For unmanned aerial transport, this is a milestone. We are proud to show for the first time what this future can look like.”
How does U-Space work?
The EASA have laid down specific requirements to form the basis of U-Space. They include defining the across and tasks for the organisation and the technical and procedural design aspect of it.
A U-Space Service Provider (USSP – the person who is the point of contact for drone pilots) coordinates the drone traffic in U-Space. As part of the experiment, Droniq takes the responsibility to issue flight permits for the drone tasks and getting in touch with pilots to update them about current manned and unmanned air traffic and any airspace restrictions. The UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management System) in Germany is of the first fully operational of its kind, developed by DFS. It is the UTM that feeds out the important information to drone pilots.
Additionally, Droniq state that ‘The second central role is fulfilled by DFS: As Single Common Information Service Provider (SCISP), it supplies Droniq with all relevant airspace and air traffic data for the provision of U-Space services. Furthermore, with the manned aviation data, all air traffic, manned and unmanned, can be displayed in a combined air situation picture. This is an essential prerequisite for flights beyond the visual range of pilots – and thus for the efficient use of drones.’
When and where can I see U-Space?
In the Port of Hamburg, the internal trial and testing of the U-Space Sandbox will take place. This then will soon be followed by Droniq and DFS will demonstrate how a U-Space will work in the fourth quarter of year during the Flight Weeks carried out by a collation of the projects partners:
- Hamburg Port Authority (HPA)
- HHLA Sky GmbH
- The Hamburg Ministry of Economics and Innovation
- DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
- Hamburg Aviation
- The Consortium of the UDVeo project funded by the BMVI
The Federal Minister Andreas Scheuer described the future of drones in Germany as “Innovative, intelligent and interlinked”.
Mr Scheuer expands on what the project can bring to the drone industry in Germany, he said: “We are about to launch Germany’s first drone airspace testbed in Hamburg, laying the groundwork for the transport system of tomorrow.
“In the U-space real-world laboratory, we will be putting drones to the test in practical application to find smart ways to safely integrate drones and, in the future air taxis, into our airspace.
“Drones are a clean, fast and smart mobility solution, especially in the logistics sector, for supporting emergency services or delivering supplies to rural areas. The U- space real-world laboratory will enable us to grow German-engineered drone innovations from their niche market and help them take to the skies.”