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A "DELOREAN" for the transport of the future with drones

The UPV is part of a European project that promotes the use of drones for the distribution of goods and the transport of people

[ 20/05/2021 ]

The Universitat Politčcnica de Valčncia (UPV) is one of the partners of DELOREAN, a project of the GSA (European Agency for the Global Satellite Navigation System) which seeks to lay the foundations for the air transport of the future, with drones as major players. The main goal of this project, coordinated by Pildo Labs, is to contribute to bringing the use of drones closer to the whole of society in complex urban environments, for the transportation of people (the so-called air taxis) or the delivery of packages or goods.

The two main pillars of DELOREAN are Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and Urban Air Delivery (UAD). “Combining conventional means of transport with drones is not only feasible, it is the way to move towards more sustainable and friendly cities, and the ideal alternative to traffic congestion. Drones will make it possible to transport goods and people quickly, economically, without contact, and free of greenhouse gas emissions”, highlights Israel Quintanilla, professor of Aerospace Engineering at the Universitat Politčcnica de Valčncia and president of the Drones Committee (COSIDANT) of this institution.

The GSA project is included in the Horizon 2020 framework programme of the European Union. The project partners, including the UPV, are working on the development of innovative solutions based on the European EGNOS navigation system that are capable of responding to these growing air mobility needs.

Tests in Benidorm

With its skyscrapers, the city of Benidorm (Spain) is the perfect place to emulate the dense urban areas in which urban air mobility services are expected to be deployed. "A network of routes has been defined in what we have called the Galileo Urban Air Mobility Laboratory," says Santiago Soley, CEO of PildoLabs. Soley stresses that flight over cities must be based on very robust and resistant systems. "The flights and data collected during the tests will help demonstrate how Galileo and EGNOS can bring us closer to this goal," he says. Galileo contributes innovative concepts that can mitigate the risks associated with signal interference and satellite occultation.

“The flight tests at DELOREAN are an important milestone in the development of urban air mobility solutions. These flights show that Galileo and EGNOS can make a substantial contribution to robust navigation in these new platforms, which will open up new possibilities for efficient and sustainable mobility in our cities”, adds Carmen Aguilera, DELOREAN Project Officer.

Fast, clean and affordable transportation

Miguel Ángel Vilaplana, head of AirBus in the DELOREAN project, stresses that “the urban skyline is still unexplored and, as technology advances and regulatory frameworks are developed, delivery services and urban air transport with drones will become a reality, and drones might provide those services in a faster and cleaner way." This is the common goal of all the partners in this ambitious project, including Correos (the Spanish post service), which is a national benchmark in the fields of logistics and delivery.

“Our goal is to make drones affordable and effective in any context; in short, to lead the way in making the use of drones in applications that a while ago were unimaginable an ever closer reality”, concludes Antidio Viguria, head of the project at the Andalusian Foundation for Aerospace Development (FADA-CATEC).

The DELOREAN project will run until mid-2022. EUROCONTROL, Bauhaus Luftfahrt EV and GeoNumerics also participate in this project. It has the support of the State Agency for Aviation Safety (AESA), the Benidorm City Council and Catalonia’s Airports Association as well.

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