The VUTURA project concluded their demonstration with the Games of Drones-show in Enschede end of August to present U-space and further pave the way towards safe and responsible integration of drones in the airspace.
VUTURA (Validation of U-space by Tests in Urban and Rural Areas) is a SESAR CEF project supporting U-space, the European vision for the safe, secure and efficient handling of drone traffic and a key enabler for the growing drone market to generate economic and societal benefits.
Henk Hesselink, VUTURA Project Coordinator, stressed the importance of drone demonstrations in urban environments and the need for U-space services in Europe. VUTURA is one of SESAR’s Very Large Demonstration projects and is part of the EC vision in Europe to increase the speed of implementing unmanned traffic services as a driver for economic benefits stemming from the use of drones. U-space services for flight planning and geo-fencing will be the first to be implemented.
VUTURA has four major goals: Validate the use of shared airspace between existing airspace users (manned aviation) and drones; Validate that more than one U-space Service Provider (USP) can provide U-space services in a specific airspace, and the procedures to manage the drone flights, including the involvement of Air Traffic Control (ATC); Ensure that the developments within SESAR and the services of commercial USPs are aligned and contribute to proposals for aligning these (if needed) and for regulation and standardisation; Increase the pace by which European cities and companies exploit emerging technologies related to drones. This will improve quality of life in cities, create concrete socio-economic outcomes and help European companies to take a leading position in the new smart city market.
For the final test in the VUTURA programme five drones flew simultaneously in different operational settings and they interacted with each other as their flight paths crossed and lower priority drones needed to give way to higher priority fire fighter drones. The scenario also featured a non-cooperative paparazzi drone that intervened with the fire fighters’ drones.
Hesselink stated afterwards that he was “happy” with the results of the test. “We’ve seen the U-space today. And we’ve seen that U-space can help to organise the airspace. We were flying with five drones simultaneously and through the use of the U-space we could do that efficiently. What we have shown today is that a certain drone can get priority over other drones. In our case, the firefighter drone got priority over package delivery. It’s very important that we can give priority to certain flights and still can assure that everyone in the U-space can do their flights efficiently. We also have shown that different U-space service providers can work together. And that’s important if you want to open the market, which is what the European Commission wants. We will therefore publish our results towards the European Commission and propose some steps for the future.”