Polish city kicks off UAM tests

First Estonia, then Germany.

Now it is Poland’s turn.

The European Union’s nearly €4million Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR-JU) – a massive project aimed at unlocking the safe integration of urban air mobility, including flights with autonomous drones, in the airspace of the EU – is steadily taking shape across an increasing number of cities, with latest tests having already started in Poland’s south eastern city of Rzeszow.

This particular leg of trials is being conducted under the banner of the USpace4UAM consortium, which was charged with overseeing Unmanned Aerial Mobility (UAM) developments in Poland, the Czech Republic, Great Britain and Spain.

The USpace4UAM consortium comprises Honeywell as consortium lead, Air Navigation Services of the Czech Republic, Altitude Angel, Austro Control, CATEC, CRIDA, DLR, Dronehub, ENAIRE, Lilium, TECNALIA, UpVision and Vertical Aerospace.

But in Poland, the flight trials are being carried out by Polish drone-in-a-box systems company Dronehub, with Honeywell providing equipment and sensors for drones, and Altitude Angel taking responsibility for the software supply.

“It is a big thing that Poland adds not a small brick, but a whole pillar to the construction of urban air mobility throughout the European Union,” said Vadym Melnyk, founder and CEO of Dronehub. “Based on the results of, inter alia, our flights over Rzeszów, guidelines for drone flights will be developed, as drones in the near future will become a common sight over the European cities. So we feel a great responsibility, but also an honour, that first demo flights are starting here in Rzeszów, Poland,”

By mid-2022, Dronehub should have carred out approximately 160 flights over the Aviation Valley near Rzeszów, where the company’s headquarters is located. The flights will be carried out for three scenarios of the use of autonomous drones in the public service: to provide emergency services with aerial monitoring from accident sites; to take a series of ortho- and photogrammetric photos for the needs of public institutions; and to transport AED defibrillators in life-threatening situations.

Melnyk went on; “As part of the Uspace4UAM project, flight safety requirements will be developed, as well as regulations and standardisations to support the development of drone flights in urban space in the EU. The project aims to show the technologies of autonomous drones that can be used in cities to improve safety and help security services to manage emergency situations.”

Dronehub is sprearheading the tests in Rzeszow

The first series of test flights with drones in Rzeszów got underway this month, with the project receiving funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking under the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

It is part of the SESAR JU’s growing portfolio of projects and demonstrations on U-space and urban air mobility.

Jakub Węglarz, project manager responsible for the implementation of the Rzeszow project at Dronehub added; “Dronehub demos within Uspace4UAM started in November 2021, and will end in June 2022. During this time, amongst other objectives, we will check how drones react to different and rapidly changing weather conditions.

“Thanks to these 160 flights we plan to carry out, we will be able to adjust both hardware and software to the real city conditions and to the needs of public services. Our conclusions and recommendations will be used to help smooth Urban Air mobility deployment in Europe.”

By and large, the SESAR-JU project aims to bridge the gap between development and deployment, tackling operational concepts, regulation, and standards, while building confidence in a safe and orderly integration of UAM in every day’s air traffic.

Conducted by various consortiums – like this Rzeszow one under the aegis of Uspace4UAM – the series of multi-national demonstrations, both with drones and UAM vehicles will cover different use cases, including mixed operations, to allow the project to derive critical enablers for a wide set of UAM service applications that can be applied all over Europe. 

“Uspace4UAM will build on the CORUS project results and on operational and business experience already gathered in operational drone service implementations in Europe,” SESAR says. “It will study safety cases and their impact on system requirements, and look at how regulation and standardisation can be set up to support innovators to build a sustainable business case while operating safely in a multi-modal transport network.

“This project is set to deliver results that are of real interest to “early movers”, enabling them to bring a real market impact in the next few years. In order to prove that this will be achieved, and that indeed the project has laid a bridge between development and deployment, the project is set to deliver a number of commercial contracts for the provision of fully automated drone services, and present solutions to identified gaps towards fully autonomous Urban Air Taxi services.”


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