Nova, OneSky complete first UTM trials in Singapore

Nova Systems, a multinational engineering services and technology solutions firm, and OneSky, a global UTM company developing airspace assessment, operations, and traffic management solutions, have announced the successful completion of Singapore’s first Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) trials.

This brings to a close a two-year consortium project led by Nova, and co-founded as part of the UAS Call-For-Proposals (CFP) by the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).  To conclude the trials, a UTM demonstration was held for CAAS on 10 March 2021. Using a mix of live flights and simulations, the demonstration showcased key developments and findings from the team’s work in UTM technologies over the past two years, in particular the handling of the mass deployment of drones flying Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS).

According to a company press release:

“The technology developed and lessons learnt present numerous opportunities for Singapore’s UAS industry as a whole with large-scale drone deployment capable of supporting a range of critical operations, including surveillance patrols and delivery of essential supplies. Under pre-identified and monitored routes visualised through a UTM system, UAS operations are coordinated, regulated and safely integrated into our urban airways, ensuring the safety and security of all citizens….Through its demonstration, the UTM technologies were validated in a range of real-life use cases in the maritime environment. These included shore-to-ship deliveries, vessel inspections, search and rescue flight profiles and general surveillance for security.

The interface of OneSky’s UTM system developed for Singapore’s unique urban high-rise environment  – simulated flights of a drone delivery operation.

“The demonstration also showcased how multiple drones could be deployed simultaneously in a safe and secure manner through the UTM system – via a network of pre-loaded flight routes submitted by multiple users, with the drones embarking on their individual flight paths within a framework fitted with early warning systems and geofencing to pre-empt any errant movements….

“ST Engineering, which was one of the companies to be awarded the project under the CFP by MOT and CAAS to help develop and test solutions for shore-to-ship parcel delivery, supported the live trials by flying its own DroNet system simultaneously with Nova’s fleet. The trial successfully demonstrated the UTM system’s capabilities in managing large-scale BVLOS UAS operations and underscored the close collaboration that is needed among key industry players to facilitate the growth of a cohesive UAS ecosystem.

“The demonstration is the final stage of the project, which is co-funded by MOT and CAAS following their Call-For-Proposal in 2017 to develop systems and technologies to enable the innovative and wide-ranging use of UAS in Singapore. Since the project began in October 2018, the consortium saw the successful completion of two suites of flight trials in April and December 2019, including a study of the operational suitability of 4G and 5G networks to safely support UAS operations in Singapore. The project was also supported by various leading industry partners, including Rohde & Schwarz, Scout Aerial, M1 Limited, F-drones, and Barrett Aerospace.

“During the demonstration, three drones took to the skies near Marina South Pier under the UTM system framework prototype, the first of its kind in Singapore. To demonstrate the robustness of the UTM system, simulated flights were uploaded concurrently as well. Nova is the first independent agency to design and coordinate UTM trials to scale up multiple UAS operations within Singapore’s densely populated, high-rise, and tropical environment.

“The conclusion of Nova and OneSky’s joint project marks an early milestone in Singapore’s drive to develop a full-fledged UTM system for on-ground deployment. In the coming years, the two companies will work closely together with authorities and key industry players to develop the technologies, regulatory frameworks, operating rules and performance standards to build this system….The successful completion of the project also drives new frontiers in the development of Urban Air Mobility services in Singapore. The development of a UTM system is a critical component in allowing new unmanned aircraft, such as air taxis and delivery drones, to share the skies safely with existing manned aircraft. Tapping on the expertise in manned aircraft test and evaluation by its sister companies – which include global civil aerospace engineering firm GVH Aerospace, Australia-based geospatial firm Geoplex, and UK-based software as a service firm two10degrees, the project’s findings will provide a valuable resource for local authorities to develop technologies and regulatory frameworks to enable a multimodal mobility system in a safe and efficient manner.

(Image: OneSky)

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