Ensuring transport safety and security is one of the EU’s main priorities, as spotlighted in WHITE PAPER–Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area, which sets out a strategy leading to reach a safer, more efficient and more sustainable civil road, rail, air and waterborne transport. Drone applications are considered as potentially capable of revolutionizing the world around us. Nevertheless, security issues make it impossible to fly drones in most situations, since drone guidance and control-related technologies have not reached enough readiness level to guarantee safe operations in most low altitude scenarios.
To face these issues, SESAR has created U-SPACE, a new framework designed to safely, securely and efficiently integrate drone operations at low level into EU airspace. Active geofencing is one of the main drone emerging technologies outlined in the U-Space Blueprint. However, although geofencing is a useful technology to avoid drones’ presence in restricted places, it is not prepared to face the future proliferation of drones in areas such as cities, where drone swarm applications will lead to an increasing risk of collisions.
LABYRINTH has identified the need to research on centralized planification systems capable of communicating with the drones in a certain area, processing their desired origin and destination points and computing paths to avoid collisions. This is embodied in the Unmanned Traffic Management Systems (UTM) that, in contrast to EU strategy, are one of the NASA’s main research priorities, whose objective is to create flight control centres for auto-piloted drones.
Aligned with this, LABYRINTH aims to use this new approach to create a U-SPACE-based technology to make a leap forward in the efforts undertaken so far through the development of autonomous drone applications, focussing on solutions addressed to enhance safety and efficiency of civil transport in road, seaport and airport scenarios, including emergency assistance operations.