In short




2017-10-01 > 2019-09-30


EUR 899 160


EUR 899 160



New technologies to support U-space information needs

Many of the differences between ATM and U-space have to do with scale. Drone information services will be significantly more detailed, diverse and dynamic than those used by aircraft today. Safety critical information, for instance, will be needed at a much higher fidelity than in today’s solutions, and will include geospatial information services to ensure surface clearance, local weather information to calculate drone trajectory uncertainties and non-conventional navigation sources (such as signals of opportunity and vision- based navigation) to allow for more precise navigation on a local scale. Services of this level of fidelity will require the movement and provision of massive amounts of data to a wide array of users spread out over a large geographical area.

When IMPETUS looked at what information is needed and how it will be used by drones in very low-level airspace, researchers proposed an information management architecture based around microservices. This contrasts with legacy monolithic applications which are centralised, uniformly packaged and single-language- based programmes that quickly reach overwhelming complexity as they grow to meet consumer demand. Microservice- based applications avoid this issue as the entire application is split into small, independent but highly interconnected services.

The framework of the IMPETUS solution is based on a federated architecture with a layered distribution of responsibilities. It is made up of a central actor that provides a single point of truth of the airspace situation, an intermediate interface composed of multiple U-space service providers, and an external layer for the end users (drone operators). The IMPETUS platform supports testing of various U-space services.

IMPETUS replicated aspects of this architecture and concluded it can meet relevant U-space challenges. For example, one experiment explored how a drone deconfliction service can interact with other services in the system to maximise the airspace capacity for drones based on dynamic volumes. Impetus looked at whether this is not only technically possible, but also a viable option when realised in coordination and conjunction between services. This approach fully supports U-space objectives of flexibility, availability and scalability, and is an enabler of high-density operations requiring agile responses and adaptability to change.


The Challenge

IMPETUS will advance the state of the art in two main areas:

1. Drone information lifecycle that best supports the flight lifecycle, with a view to defining a set of U-space services that leverage the data to provide the users with knowledge and wisdom, which will ultimately lead to safe and efficient operations.

U-space services will be researched on the basis of the use of the ‘micro-services’ paradigm, aiming at exploring lightweight decoupled services, with a clearly defined functionality (focused on a specific capability) and simple interactions. These micro-services will be also characterized by the fact that they could be leveraged to build a more complex, modular composite service, and by allowing users to leverage information created by other users, e.g. services based on exploiting historical position data and sensor readings from a large number of missions to extract information that may be useful to enhance the safety or efficiency of future missions.

2. Proposal for a technological solution to deliver the U-space services that should be characterized by its scalability to respond to multiple users with diverse business models, its mechanisms to assure the data quality and integrity, and its flexibility to facilitate the integration with manned traffic management systems.

Solution will be researched on the basis of the cloud-based server-less computing, leveraging the ‘Function as a Service (FaaS)’ paradigm, which allows for highly scalable service provision at potentially much lower costs than standard cloud-based deployment.

IMPETUS will also research on the application of the smart concept to the design of the envisioned U-space system. The main driver of this concept is to ensure an optimum management of the U-space system with respect to measurable performance indicators such as costs, safety, security or scalability. This concept will be supported by emerging IT technologies to gather, curate, process and deliver data-driven services, including big data (BD) and Internet of Things (IoT).


Among other challenges, IMPETUS will look into how these technologies allow fusing data from diverse sources of information on a massive scale to enable quality assurance centralized services to support safety, security and oversight. As an example, drones’ navigation and surveillance will require the integration of ADS-B or radar data with emerging approaches such as sensor-based navigation in GPS-denied environments.

IMPETUS will also research on how the proposed solution can be connected to the European SWIM infrastructure based on B2B services to leverage specific services and functions to authorized users and to take advantage of existing governance mechanism such as registry. This will allow providing solutions to the U-space that go beyond current drone information services which are provided at local level, facilitating additional categorization and standardisation.

The Approach

The IMPETUS approach is based on the analysis and identification of the needs of the future drone operators and service providers in order to define a conceptual model of drone information micro-services as well as a cloud-based architecture which will give answer to the identified needs.

This conceptual model and its selected architecture constitute the IMPETUS Solution fulfilling the requirements in terms of scalability, safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the drone operations. The technical and commercial feasibility of this solution will be demonstrated by means of laboratory-based experimental tests using a prototype of the IMPETUS Solution containing the required functionality to allow the integration of a set of micro-services which jointly provide enough evidence of the fulfilment of project’s objectives.

The project will implement proper mechanisms to use the expertise internal to the consortium and to also ensure the feedback of key stakeholders. These mechanisms will be mainly a set of workshops where information will be obtained related to current and future volume of traffic, drone operations, emerging IT technologies and their applicability to an Smart U-space Concept, and recommendations over the achieved results.


To complement internal knowledge, IMPETUS will consult its Advisory Board which will intervene at several stages of IMPETUS research activities to offer an enriched view of the industry and research community thus ensuring that IMPETUS solution reflects the needs of a wide range of business models and user’s needs.

IMPETUS will also perform a benchmarking with today’s drone information management systems. This will allow not only assessing the expected performance improvements of the future IMPETUS solution in comparison with today’s systems, but also analysing the cost implications within the envisioned market.

The Consortium

IMPETUS consortium is composed of key stakeholders providing complementary views on the current and envisioned drone and ATM information management processes.


This project has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 763807

European Union