Cranfield University is part of a new programme to test the European Union’s readiness to manage a broad range of drone operations and their interaction with manned aviation.

EuroDRONE, due to begin shortly in Missolonghi, Greece, aims to connect operators, regulators, law enforcement agencies and product developers – and the different systems they use – in a unified environment. 

It is part of a series of 18-month drone demonstration programmes getting underway at urban and rural locations across Europe to test the implementation of U-space, an EU initiative to ensure safe and secure drone traffic management in its airspace.

EuroDRONE will test U-space functionalities at an enhanced service level, paving the way for a broad range of drone operations and related services that are currently restricted. These could include parcel deliveries in dense urban locations, medical emergencies and police interventions, maritime search and rescue missions, and forestry inspections.

Professor Antonios Tsourdos, Head of the Autonomous and Cyber-Physical Systems Centre at Cranfield, said: “Drones and autonomous vehicles have a wide range of potential uses which are currently underexploited. The presence of unmanned aerial vehicles in our airspace will become increasingly common and test programmes such as this are crucial to ensuring they can operate safely alongside one another and manned aircraft.

“Unlike the recently announced NBEC (National Beyond visual line of sight Experimentation Corridor) extending from Cranfield Airport, the EuroDRONE testbed is located over the sea and will provide valuable experience of operating drones both nationally and internationally in different environments,” Tsourdos added. 

The EuroDRONE architecture is made up of cloud software and hardware (transponders) to be installed on drones. It is a sophisticated self-learning system operating in a distributed computing environment and offering multiple levels of redundancy, fail-safe algorithms for conflict prevention/resolution and asset management.

Cranfield is leading work around path planning and clearance procedures, connectivity between airports and drones, the tracking of drones to monitor their operations and behaviour, and the assessment and development of appropriate sense and avoid techniques.

Cranfield’s partners in EuroDRONE include Aslogic, DronSystems Limited, the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA), Hellenic Post S.A. (ELTA), University of Patras (UPAT) and Romanian Post (CNPR).The project is being coordinated by the University of Patras in Greece.

U-space is part of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking within the framework of the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility programme.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.