AMU-LED will design and deliver a detailed Concept of Operations (ConOps) and definition of urban air missions followed by simulations and a vast real-flight demonstration campaign to verify and validate the concepts.
The flight demonstrations will accumulate more than 100 hours and flights will be performed across Europe in three different countries and various scenarios:
- United Kingdom (Cranfield) – June 2022
- The Netherlands (Amsterdam / Rotterdam) – August 2022
- Spain (Santiago de Compostela) – September 2022
Seven demonstrations across Europe of safe integration of unmanned aircraft
In just a few years, urban air mobility will be a reality, letting people travel conveniently in a way more suited to cities and their residents. Integrating these big future drones safely into our urban airspace requires a lot of coordination and a great deal of testing. During the project’s life clicle, AMU-LED will carry out several demonstration flights in urban environments in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Spain.
Scenarios in urban environments
A lot of work has been put into developing U-space and UAM through research and innovation projects and technological developments. In particular, AMU-LED will demonstrate the safe integration of manned and unmanned aircraft through the deployment of U-space, with the ultimate goal of realising increasingly sustainable smart cities. This will be done by performing flight demonstrations with various scenarios, situations and use cases in urban environments.
In these demos, the project will use large electrical Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL) platforms for passenger and cargo transport, combined with smaller Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) performing delivery of goods and medical supplies, surveillance or support for emergency services.
Eventually there will be six demonstrations in total, taking place throughout 2022, in Cranfield (UK), Amsterdam (NL), Enschede (NL), Rotterdam (NL), and Santiago de Compostela (SP).
Exchange of information
The variety in locations allows the project to test and demonstrate several relevant aspects in different ways, for instance assessing the most efficient way to exchange information between actors (such as the drones, their pilots and the air traffic management system). The project will test two different concepts for distributing relevant data: a centralised and a decentralised architecture. The decentralised architecture will be tested in Cranfield, Enschede and Rotterdam, and the centralised architecture will be tested in Amsterdam and Santiago de Compostela.
The information to be exchanged concerns all kinds of data, e.g. strategic and tactical information prior to and during the flight, tracking data (real-time information about the position of the drone), advisory tactical deconfliction service (information to avoid any conflicts prior to the flight and during the flight), and t weather and CNS (Communication, Navigation and Surveillance) data.
What can be expected during the demonstrations?
Additionally, as U-space and UAM are still concepts that are under development, AMU-LED followed the three pillars of innovation – feasibility, viability and desirability – to ensure that the demonstrations cover the bases for an effective implementation of UAM.
In June the demonstrations start with the feasibility case in Cranfield, proving the readiness of the AMU-LED solution, technologies, and systems. These tests are led by Cranfield University, and will take place at Cranfield Airport, a unique facility which has its own Air Navigation Service Provider and air traffic controllers, and its own pilots and aircraft. This demonstration will be a prerequisite for the subsequent demonstrations, proving that the AMU-LED solution is ready and safe to be tested in more complex environments. A second part of the Cranfield demonstration will take place in September.
After proving the feasibility of the AMU-LED solution, in August the project will continue testing the desirability of its solution in Amsterdam and Enschede, focusing on public acceptance and social impact.
In Amsterdam, the tests are led by the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) and will take place in the heart of the city, at the Marineterrein. Using a focus group to gather data, the team will perform various flight demonstrations, testing different aspects of U-space and certain public acceptance indicators such as noise nuisance, perceived safety, trust in the technology, privacy concerns or visual pollution. Mitigation measures for the concerns raised by the focus group will be proposed on the basis of the data gathered.
Enschede will follow, demonstrating the social impact of UAM. Space53, a test and innovation centre for unmanned systems, is in charge of this demonstration, which will take place between the Space53 location at Technology Base and Twente Airport, and the city of Enschede. Showcasing various socially relevant use cases such as medical delivery, firefighting or police surveillance, this demonstration will prove the social impact that UAM will create when implemented.
In Rotterdam, the economic viability of UAM will be demonstrated also in August. This test is being coordinated by AirHub and will take place in the port area of the city. It will be done in collaboration with the Port of Rotterdam Authority, which wants to investigate the viability of transporting ships’ crews directly from the vessel to the hotel. Other use cases will be showcased as well, flying different UAVs and VTOL aircraft.
The city of Santiago de Compostela will host the final demonstration of AMU-LED, where all the previous aspects – feasibility, viability and desirability – come together in a big final show. Coordinated by the technology centre ITG – Fundación Instituto Tecnológico de Galicia the demonstration will focus on the correct implementation of all the aspects in urban environments, as the final showcase of how U-space can enable Urban Air Mobility. This will be demonstrated in September and in October.
Throughout these demonstrations, the project team will gather data about the various aspects being tested, which will then be analysed. This will let the project draw up results for the further development of U-space, providing information about the most efficient way for U-space to enable UAM, providing a safe, effective and viable solution for smart cities.