UK-based university joins European Union drone test programme

Cranfield University has announced it 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, which will soon be implemented in Greece, has been designed to connect operators, regulators, law enforcement agencies and product developers.

Organisers are hoping that the program will allow professionals from different sectors in the industry to discover the different systems they use in a unified environment.

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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.

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.”

He added: “Unlike the recently announced National Beyond visual line of sight Experimentation Corridor (NBEC) 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.”

The EuroDRONE architecture is made up of cloud-based software and hardware to be installed on drones.

It is a sophisticated self-learning system operating in a distributed computing environment and offers multiple levels of redundancy, fail-safe algorithms for conflict prevention, resolution and asset management.

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Alex Douglas

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