The Technological Institute of Galicia (ITG) has carried out a drone flight campaign in the outer ports of A Coruña and Ferrol in which it has shown the possibilities in a port environment of AIRUS, its technology for the simultaneous and unlimited integration of unmanned aerial craft in the airspace.
Thus, ITG recreated several cases of use that are key in ports, such as the control of perimeter security or the inspection of areas that are difficult to access, which demonstrate the transforming potential of this technology in port environments. The drone flight campaign was brought to a close this morning with an “Open Day” held at ITG’s facilities, where leading local and national companies and agents witnessed the real applications of this technological development. These tests are part of the European U-ELCOME demonstrator, which seeks to boost the implementation of U-Space in the EU.
In this campaign, carried out in early September, the simultaneous use of drones was validated in various key use cases in the day-to-day running of a port. Thus, one of the main objectives agreed in the working group created by ITG together with representatives of both ports was the improvement of perimeter security and the inspection of non-operational areas, as well as the surveillance of the berthing of ships from the sea, which would facilitate the detection and monitoring of spills, thus contributing to the protection of the environment.
The main challenge to be addressed during the exercises was the management and control of several drones flying at the same time over the ports. For this, ITG deployed its U-space drone traffic management technology, AIRUS, which allowed more than ten drones to perform their activities simultaneously and in a coordinated manner. The tests included the deployment of functionalities such as the planning and management of flight plans, real-time monitoring of flight plans, compliance alerts or adaptation to changes in airspace, which will be indisputable parts of the new urban aerial mobility and whose usefulness will be validated in the coming years within the U-ELCOME project.
Thus, for several days, the drones were used to efficiently monitor the physical condition of the perimeter closure of Langosteira and areas that are normally difficult to inspect, such as the counterdike and the southern esplanade. In addition, ITG’s drone technology was also applied to the inspection of other elements, such as walls, fenders and breakwaters both inside and outside the ports of A Coruña and Ferrol. This detailed inspection capability allows to speed up the processes while keeping the infrastructures in optimal conditions in a more efficient way, reducing costs and mitigating potential risks that could affect critical facilities. Finally, this inspection and surveillance proved to be a valuable addition to the existing CCTV (access control) system, providing a complete view of the port’s perimeter and surface area. This is essential to detect any suspicious activity and ensure security at all times.
A Coruña, a pioneering scenario for Urban Air Mobility in Europe
The Galician Technological Institute is promoting A Coruña 2030 so that the city becomes a pioneering scenario for the deployment of Urban Air Mobility in Europe. Thus, the technology centre based in A Coruña will participate in Expodrónica, the reference event on unmanned aircraft and their integration into airspace (U-space), which will take place from 25 to 28 September in Madrid, during the Airspace Integration Week. There, it will carry out aerial demonstrations at Cuatro Vientos airport and will also participate in the conference programme and in different initiatives of partners, suppliers and customers in the sector, as well as officially presenting DOC, its mobile drone operations control unit. It will be the first time that three international events on drones, manned aviation and the space industry will be held simultaneously to address a common challenge: the most effective integration of UTM (Unmanned Traffic), ATM (Air Traffic Management) and STM (Space Traffic Management).
ITG, the only Galician technology centre present in this consortium formed by companies, public managers and technology centres, among other entities, participates in its double capacity as U-space service provider and demonstrator centre with specific infrastructures to test commercial and pre-commercial solutions. This project, launched with funding from the European Union’s Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) in cooperation with SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking, has an overall budget of 15 million euros. It is coordinated by Eurocontrol Innovation Hub and involves seven European countries and 51 partners, including ITG.
U-ELCOME promotes both the regulation and the maturation of new business models related to drone traffic, such as emergency, surveillance and inspection, rescue of people, delivery of medical material, delivery of goods or transport of people. The aim of the project is to develop the implementation of U-Space, the EU programme for the efficient and safe integration of unmanned aircraft in European airspace in a unified platform regulated by local authorities to manage air traffic.
To do so, U-ELCOME includes Digital Sky Demonstrators (DSD), demonstrations of the safe and reliable integration of unmanned aerial craft in airspace that will contribute to achieving the Sustainable and Intelligent Mobility Strategy through accelerating the market uptake of U-Space and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) services. These DSDs will also contribute to the “Action Plan on Synergies between Civil, Defence and Space Industries”, which was adopted in February 2020 and includes an “EU Drone Technologies Flagship” project. The demonstrations, which will take place in 15 locations in Spain, Italy and France, will accelerate the market uptake of U-space services through a set of tests in various European operating environments and locations.