DELOREAN: Drones and EGNSS for low airspace urban mobility

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The project DELOREAN is about urban air mobility (UAM) and how the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems (EGNSS), composed of EGNOS and Galileo, are its enablers by guaranteeing safe navigation to UAM aircraft.

Urban air mobility (UAM) refers to urban transportation systems that move people by air. UAM includes both manned and unmanned aircraft and has been developed in response to ground traffic congestion. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States of America, UAM is a “system for air passenger and cargo transportation within an urban area, inclusive of small package delivery and other urban unmanned aircraft systems services.” A close definition is provided by the aviation company Honeywell as “an aviation industry term for on-demand and automated passenger or cargo-carrying air transportation services, typically flown without a pilot.” Taxi drones and delivery drones are particular cases of aircraft for UAM services. Urban air delivery (UAD) refers to drone delivery services in urban areas.

Specifically, the main goal of the DELOREAN project is to develop the navigation and positioning requirements for the challenging UAM services, and to demonstrate how EGNSS stands as an enabler of UAM. For this purpose a number of ancillary goals will be pursued and many actions implemented, being the central one the integration of a test environment –an urban lab–  for the identification, by means of drone test flights, of EGNSS application specific requirements for UAM and UAD. The Spanish city of Benidorm will host the urban lab.

In addition to the general promotion of EGNSS in future standards and regulations to ensure the safe navigation of drones for UAM and UAD, a remarkable goal of DELOREAN is to contribute to the definition of EGNSS requirements and standards that can be used as acceptable means of compliance (AMC) in the new European drone regulation, especially for the drone specific category –and as a result of the application of the specific operations risk assessment (SORA) method.

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 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). In addition to the OS NMA and OS HAS, the Galileo Commercial Authentication Service (CAS), if available, will be tested.

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

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: 

DELOREAN is funded by the European Community's Horizon 2020 Programme under Grant Agreement 870251.