For over a year the European drone community has been working with EASA and the different NASP’s (National Airspace Service Providers) to create the foundation for the safe integration of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) over European airspace. Much of that has been focused on an initiative known as U-space that addresses this integration with exhaustive attention to detail and extreme focus on safety. Each European country has been approaching a slightly different version of U-Space aiming at eventually having a pan-European version.
Last week, INVOLI (www.involi.com), a Swiss startup that develops and produces air traffic awareness systems for professional drone applications, joined the Swiss U-Space. It is the first country-wide collaborative effort for safely and securely integrating drones into their airspace, which was initiated in 2017 by skyguide, Switzerland’s NASP.
“Being a part of the Swiss U-Space is an important milestone for us, the result of hard work put into continuous technological developments, but it is also a reward for the dedication of the amazing team which INVOLI has today,” says Manu Lubrano, CEO and co-founder of INVOLI. “We are at the same time humbled and proud to be part of the history of aviation being written today.”
Known in the USA as “UTM” or “Unmanned Traffic Management”, U-space designates a set of services and procedures developed at European levels to enable situational awareness, data exchange and digital communication for the European drone ecosystem. With millions of drones expected to operate in the airspace in the years to come, U-space services will power the ever-increasing drone ecosystem in Switzerland for advanced commercial applications. These include drone delivery, large-scale inspection of infrastructure and so on and usually require geo-awareness, tracking, and risk management, just to name a few.
INVOLI will contribute to the U-Space its unique low altitude air traffic data for drones and data gathered through a network of in-house developed detection devices that can be deployed as a dense network covering the whole country. Nothing is added onto the drone as to not diminish its autonomy; the system is decentralized on the ground over existing infrastructure, such as Swisscom cell towers or the rooftops of Swiss Prime Site properties. The technology detects aircraft in real-time, especially the ones flying low and at risk of hitting drones (including helicopters, aircraft, gliders, etc.).
In partnership with Swisscom, the leading Swiss telecommunication and one of its leading IT providers, pilot deployments of the INVOLI system are currently being tested in Switzerland for flight awareness purposes, especially in the low altitudes. INVOLI is also continuing its deployment, which covers today an area of approximately 10,000 square km and the entirety of Switzerland by 2020.
The full deployment of U-space and the addition of tools such as the Involi air traffic data and patented technology which detects all low altitude traffic equipped with an identification technology (ADS-B, transponder, FLARM, etc.) is exciting for multiple reasons. It brings us that much closer to the safe integration of unmanned vehicles into the airspace.