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Swedish airport drone project


January 30, 2019
By UAV Canada Staff

A newly granted project called Airport Surveillance for Airport Safety (ASA) is to be led by the RISE Research Institutes of Sweden in collaboration with Luftfartsverket (LFV, Swedish Civil Aviation Administration), Swedish Regional Airports (SRF), Örnsköldsvik Airport (OER) and FlyPulse. The group aims to develop and demonstrate drone solutions to help automate daily operations in airports.


The project is to last for 14 months and organizers plan to hold public demonstration of their progress in mid-2019. The project is funded by VINNOVA, Sweden’s innovation agency through its program on future drones. It will identify use cases that address the needs of daily operations at airports, develop and demonstrate drone solutions that help automate airport operations, improve airport safety, optimize resource utilization and reduce environmental impacts.

Described as one of of the world’s most automated regional airports, Örnsköldsvik Airport through the help of LFV introduced a Remote Tower Center (RTC) in 2015 to have traffic control taken over remotely by Sundsvall/Midlanda airport (SDL). OER airport is a municipal company owned by Örnsködsvik municipal group with around 100,000 passengers per year.

Then in 2017, connected vehicles were introduced at OER for improving airport safety based on results from the project DRIWS (Digital Runway Incursion Warning Systems), where physical stop-lights were replaced by digital signals within the vehicles for preventing ground vehicles from approaching the runway without clearance from air traffic control.
 
For further development of airport automation, LFV once again in collaboration with OER has initialized a program with the vision of the Autonomous Airport to test and evaluate future systems for safe, cost-effective and remotely controlled automated airports. One key application area involves the integration of drone solutions in daily airport operations.
 
RISE explains airport inspection includes many routine tasks like frequent border surveillance of airport fences, wild animal detection and runway surface conditions. These tasks are usually time and labour intensive and introduce emissions when fossil fueled vehicles are in operation.
 
“Instead of driving a terrain vehicle for checking the airport fences, electrically powered drones could be used for automatic checking, streaming live video to personnel for supervision. This will save considerable amounts of time and daily vehicle driving and thereby reduce costs and vehicle emissions,” said Jonas Didoff, senior advisor at LFV and project manager for DRIWS. “With advanced detection techniques, the system could also alarm the personnel if fence damages or animals are found on the airport perimeters.”
 
The new RISE project will leverage the experience of drone development at FlyPulse and ultimately deliver drone solutions that are tailored for the needs of airports. “The airport is a special environment where close interactions with Air Traffic Control and authorities are needed. Our drone solutions need to consider the flight schedules and be able to operate day and night, as well as in harsh weather situations,” said Jan Björn, CEO at FlyPulse.

For the project, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden will contribute its competences in wireless communications and automation for the drone solution development, as well as business development for market introduction.

“We need to consider different communication solutions to make sure a certain level of availability and reliability for remote control and data delivery. 5G is one on-going topic which we will have a close look at, especially for use cases at the airports,” says Lei Chen, Senior researcher at RISE. “In addition, we will also investigate a seamless integration of such a solution in the current daily operation procedure and establish an innovation platform for future advanced intelligent functionalities.”


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