In short




2018-10-01 > 2020-03-31







Defining rules for manned and unmanned systems to share the same airspace

Drones will need to adhere to rules of the air to operate safely alongside manned aviation. This is especially important in urban environments. Demonstrations carried out by members of the VUTURA consortium looked at the new digital smart cities, and how unmanned vehicles can become a part of this interconnected world.

VUTURA focused on four major goals. These are: validating the use of shared airspace between existing, manned airspace users and drones; validating more than one U-space service provider providing U-space services in a specific airspace and the procedures needed to support drone flights; ensuring alignment of regulation and standardisation between SESAR developments and U-space service providers; and increasing the pace by which European cities and companies exploit emerging technologies related to drones. The goal was to improve the quality of life in cities, create concrete socio-economic outcomes and help European companies to take a leading position in the new smart city market.

The consortium conducted beyond visual line of sight demonstration flights involving multiple U-space service providers in rural, urban and smart city environments. Each scenario featured two service providers coordinating their services where interoperability was a major focus. Manned aviation, different levels of automation, commercial and leisure drones, off-the- shelf drones as well as custom made ones all featured in the scenarios. Information was shared allowing all stakeholders to access the data via a web interface. In the tests, drones gave way to high priority drones autonomously, for example medical deliveries, and the U-space service providers facilitated the drone traffic de- confliction using interoperable systems.

The work done by VUTURA demonstrated that commercial drone traffic can safely co- exist with traditional air traffic in different kinds of environments and the technology to safely manage drone traffic is feasible, scalable and interoperable. It also flagged up areas in need of further research. This includes closer alignment of flight planning activity by USSPs and a set of procedures for cross-border flight planning; a common interface for exchanging information and acceptable transmission delay; and reliable detect and avoid capability. Among key findings, VUTURA concluded that airspace users need to be registered in order to share airspace, be identifiable and meet geofencing requirements before the industry can move closer to supporting urban air mobility.


Led by NLR, the VUTURA consortium consists of 10 members who each bring their unique expertise and background to the project:

NLR plays a central role in the coordination of drone R&D in the Netherlands. NLR tries to contribute to the connecting link between science, industry and government. For this reason it is the ambition of NLR to contribute to a U-space concept that will result in safe, efficient and innovative drone operations. Currently NLR is involved in many drone projects, for integration of large drones (e.g. through real-time man-in-the-loop simulation) and for small drone systems. NLR participates in six U-Space projects.

As University, TUDelft finds it very important to valorise the giant knowledge of the executed research, transfer the knowledge to the businesses and governments by means of a very large demonstration. The technical university of Delft is a renowned European university in the field of aerospace research. The department of Micro Air Vehicle Laboratory (MAVLAB) will participate in VUTURA and provide drones including the Delftacopter and AED drone.

The City of Enschede will learn about current drone technology and the implications for governance of its city.. Smart City Enschede is a founding partner of Space53, the cluster for unmanned systems located in the Eastern part of the Netherlands. The city of Enschede will facilitate the preparation and execution of VUTURA’s third scenario, featuring drone operations that connect urban area and Technology Base just outside of the city.

UAV International will learn about current drone technology and implications for governance of drone operations and UTM profiles. UAVI will participate together with Space53.

AirHub will gain operational experience with U-space, hence integrating these services into AH Drone Management System at an early stage. As a consultancy firm who is developing drone software including drone operations management platform software, this would especially be beneficial to AH governmental customers from a safety and innovation perspective.

LVNL considers the integration of drones into the ATM system as one of the biggest challenges it will face. The Dutch ANSP will participate in the TU-Delft trials as these are situated in the Rotterdam Airport CTR. LVNL will establish guidelines, policies, principles and system examples, as well as gain valuable operational experience with U-Space, enabling us to play our part in a new world.

Unifly will take a major step towards universal data sharing with all types of drones, USPs and aviation authorities, integrating from various sources. This will prepare Unifly to advance to service provision on level U3 and higher. The Belgian U-space service provider connects end-users to authorities. They provide a free app to inform end-user. For authorities they provide means to visualize where drones are and means to add no-drone zones. Unifly is in cooperation with DFS, NAVIAIR, Austria and skeyes. Key U-space functionalities are available. Unifly is involved in multiple SESAR U-space research projects, humanitarian projects in Africa and has activities ongoing in Japan. Their focus is on research, openness and global collaboration.

AirMap will enable sophisticated U3 services in a Smart City environment to unlock new use cases and business opportunities for drones in a democratic marketplace in which drones can benefit everyday life. AirMap is a Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) platform provider with solutions for registration, geo-awareness, flight management, authorization, and real-time traffic deconfliction. For the SESAR Vutura project, AirMap will equip each drone operation with dynamic airspace information related to advisories, regulatory requirements, and weather conditions. Once airborne, the drone shares telemetry with the AirMap platform to receive real-time alerts of changes in airspace conditions, including temporary flight restrictions, restricted areas, and live positioning of nearby air traffic for enhanced situational awareness and safety. AirMap is participating in 4 SESAR projects as part of the European Network of U-space Demonstrators.

Unisphere will integrate multiple drone operators and U-Space providers into the existing framework for risk assessment of drone operations. Obtaining early operational experience on the application of U-space through SESAR is key to enable these services to become an aviation authority approved thread barrier for future drone operations. Unisphere will leverage the results of VUTURA in other European drone projects.

Robor Electronics will gain experience in practical development and application of the U-Space network and related communication technologies. Getting in contact with global rule-makers, and other related companies to broaden our field of applications and products. Robor Electronics is developing drone applications for first responders. This includes the fire-brigade who wants to use drones for the detection of gaseous emissions. They have developed a 4D navigation system and are working with LoRa technology.

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 SJU/LC/345-CTR

European Union