DELOREAN kicks-off: GeoNumerics to investigate trustworthy navigation for urban air mobility

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When moving people by air, particularly with unmanned aircraft like the future taxi drones, a navigation failure is not an option. The recently started EU-funded research and development project DELOREAN aims at developing the navigation and positioning requirements for the future urban air mobility and urban air delivery missions.

Castelldefels, 3 February 2020. The urban air mobility (UAM) and urban air delivery (UAD) project DELOREAN, coordinated by the Spanish company Pildo Consulting S.L. –a.k.a. Pildo Labs– had its kick-off meeting on 31 January 2020 at the European GNSS Agency (GSA) premises located in the Spanish Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Espacial (INTA). The research and innovation project, funded by the European Union (EU) Horizon 2020 (H2020) programme and managed by the GSA, aims at the identification of the navigation and positioning requirements for the challenging future UAM and UAD services, and to demonstrate how the European GNSS stands as an enabler of UAM and UAD.

Along with the introduction of EGNSS in future standards and regulations to ensure the safe navigation of UAM and UAD drones, an important goal of DELOREAN is the contribution to the definition of EGNSS requirements and standards that can be used as acceptable means of compliance (AMC) in the new European drone regulation, particularly for the drone specific category –and as a result of the application of the specific operations risk assessment (SORA) method.

DELOREAN counts with two exceptionally qualified partners: Airbus (France) and Correos (Spain) as the main contributing partners for UAM and UAD respectively. The touristic, coastal city of Benidorm (Spain) will host drone  test flights thus demonstrating the feasibility of drone delivery in a challenging urban environment. The role of GeoNumerics in DELOREAN is the design and implementation of EGNSS-based multi-sensor navigation algorithms that are sufficiently precise, accurate and reliable for UAM and UAD applications, including autonomous integrity monitoring methods based on the high redundancy of multi-sensor systems. A key aspect of the GeoNumerics contribution is the exploitation of the Galileo differentiators like the E5 AltBOC signal, the Open Service (OS) Navigation Message Authentication (NMA) and the High Accuracy Service (HAS).

“Our first priority is protecting people in the future unmanned UAM flights by developing algorithms and software that guarantee accurate navigation that can be trusted to a very high degree of probability,” said GeoNumerics Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ismael Colomina. Dr. Marta Blázquez, responsible for GeoNumerics scientific programmes and, in particular, for the development of the DELOREAN navigation solution, further said that “it is as challenging as interesting to bring the geodetic estimation and quality assurance methods together with the navigation ones in multi-sensor systems powered by EGNSS and its differentiators. DELOREAN will boost the development of NEXA, our trajectory determination platform, in the direction of trustworthy navigation.”

GeoNumerics is a research and development (R&D) intensive small-and-medium-enterprise (SME) company specialised in geomatics and accurate navigation.

Pildo Consulting, the coordinator of the project, is an engineering company specialized in the development of cutting-edge services for the aeronautical and sustainable mobility sectors.

The European Global navigation Satellite system Agency (GSA) is a European Union (EU) agency that promotes the use, adoption, application and market development of European GNSS services and that these services and operations are thoroughly secure, safe and accessible.

The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (H2020) has been the biggest EU research and innovation programme ever with nearly 80 B€ (billion of €) funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). H2020 couples research and innovation with emphasis on excellent science and industrial leadership, and tackles the EU societal challenges. H2020 goal has been to ensure that Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation. The H2020 programme will be succeeded by Horizon Europe, with an expected budget of 100 B€ to be launched on 1 January 2021.

Title: Drones and EGNSS for low airspace urban mobility
Period: 2019-12-01 to 2022-05-31
Funding: European Global navigation Satellite system Agency (GSA), European Commission (EC) grant 870251, Horizon 2020 (H2020), LC-SPACE-EGNSS-1-2019-2020
Coordinator: Pildo Consulting (ES)
Other participants: Airbus (FR), Bauhaus Luftfahrt (DE), Correos (ES), EUROCONTROL (BE), FADA-CATEC (ES), Universitat Politècnica de València (ES), GeoNumerics (ES)

H2020 web page:

This project has received funding from the European Community's Horizon 2020 Programme under Grant Agreement 870251.