Europe’s Comp4Drones tests 4G communications

Two demonstrators in the Comp4Drones European research & development project will rely on communication modules using 4G technology developed by Indra to support cybersecurity, reliability and stability, creating encrypted communication channels for drone applications. During the project, Indra will integrate its Mova Traffic transportation management solution, which includes Air Drones, the unmanned aircraft system traffic management (UTM) in low-altitude airspace, designed to support intermodal mobility and provide infrastructure managers with secure drone applications.

Indra leads 49 partners in the Comp4Drone project and is in charge of the demonstrators which aim to use drones to improve the efficiency and automation of monitoring activities, as well as to lower their costs, upgrade the control and maintenance of transportation operations and their infrastructure, both on land and sea, offering greater flexibility and stability in solutions and services. The drones are also designed to reduce incident response times and operational risks, increase the capacity of cargo areas in ports and other infrastructure, and increase safety and sustainability.

The research objective is to develop key hardware, software and communication technologies that ensure the drones are autonomous and safe for complex applications in the fields of transportation, construction, logistics, surveillance and inspection and agriculture. With a budget close to 30 million euros, the project is funded by the European ECSEL program, and by the Spanish Ministry of Industry.

Indra will use drones as sensors for current transportation monitoring systems, and integrate them into Mova Traffic, its solutions for transportation control and management. It will develop image and video processing tools based on graphics cards as well as artificial intelligence and deep learning technologies to analyze video and images taken by the drones, so that incidents can be automatically detected. In addition to artificial intelligence algorithms, the project is set out to develop trajectory planning algorithms, safety monitoring, obstacle avoidance, geo-fencing to establish virtual boundaries in a given geographical area or local preprocessing.

To perform the tests planned for the project, Indra will use, among other drones, its optionally manned USV vessel, developed as part of the Civil UAVs Initiative, a Xunta de Galicia project in which Indra acts as an anchor company. In addition, it will improve its Mantis fixed-wing drone, developing a civil use version for innovative transportation applications. Among other improvements, Indra will work on the detection capabilities of Mantis, in order to facilitate both the processing and the analysis of the images and videos obtained.

The first use case that Indra will carry out will use the drones for the management and supervision of road traffic and the detection of incidents, and will be tested at the Rozas airdrome, headquarters of the Civil UAVs Initiative in Lugo. Different drones will be integrated with the transportation control center, which will receive and process real-time image and video transmissions of hundreds of vehicles, validating the artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms developed in the project. Guidance systems will also be integrated with the control center in order to control the drone while flying above the roads.

The second use case will be carried out in Puerto de Vigo. It will consist of the deployment of drones as sensors or tools for maritime activities, such as guiding ships arriving at ports, as well as new applications that facilitate the supervision of port infrastructures and offer support to land and maritime operations in the ports.

The European Comp4Drones project is focused specifically on the software and hardware architecture of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) systems. It is an ECSEL JU project that complements the SESAR JU’s efforts to integrate drones into the upcoming U-Space, which will facilitate access for drones to fly over cities and rural areas to offer innovative services. Indra also leads the Safedrone project consortium, which will present one of the largest flight demonstrations in Europe to date, with conventional drones and aircraft sharing the same low-altitude (Very Low Level-LVV) airspace.

At the same time, the use of drones will further develop Indra’s set of solutions, Mova Traffic, which enables comprehensive management and control of intermodal mobility and has included in recent years technologies such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and the IoT and systems to integrate connected vehicles.

(Image: Indra)

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