Zaragoza City to conduct second round of drone testing for Flying Forward 2020

Zaragoza City Council will carry out a second round of autonomous drone testing in urban green space on 15 March 2023. Zaragoza is one of five living labs in Flying Forward 2020 (FF2020) where demonstrations are carried out to test and validate the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) solutions the project partners are developing.

Zaragoza’s first demonstration occurred in October last year in the urban city centre during the Fiestas del Pilar, a mass event honouring the Virgen del Pilar, the city’s patron Virgen. The use case involved drones flying safely over crowds to monitor crowd safety and support emergency services in restricted public spaces.

The purpose of Zaragoza’s upcoming demonstration the search for people with the help of machine learning and artificial intelligence software designed by Zaragoza City Council’s service partner, LabelFuse. The software is integrated into the FF2020’s consortium partner Verses’ operating system, KOSM, which employs AI and digital twins to govern the behaviour of autonomous drones to ensure strict compliance with air traffic regulations and data privacy laws.

The drone missions consist of operations-based exercises during which two drones fly simultaneously to map out the terrain from the air to search, detect and identify:

  • People. This represents the search for a missing person
  • A fruit box. In numerous real cases, finding objects that accompanied or belonged to the missing person has resulted in finding the missing person’s location within a 100-metre radius
  • License plates of vehicles parked in the defined search space

The search for people will be realised through facial recognition. Due to data protection laws, the people to be searched for will be Mr Sergio Andrés Blanca and Mr Esteban Hernandez, members of the Zaragoza Fire Department, who will be among a group of volunteers.

One of the lessons learned during Zaragoza’s first use case was the need to ensure a continuous secure connection line between the drones and the command post. For this purpose, during this year’s demonstrations, the fire service acquired a telephone antenna provided by Teltronic. The company offers private telephony and a communications radio antenna (STARLINK) through its TETRA infrastructure, enabling the highest levels of coverage, security and availability, responding to the voice and data communications needs of the most critical sectors, such as public safety and emergency response.

The drones will communicate with the telephony to share the captured images through the connection with the STARLINK antenna with the KOSM operating system and all fire brigade personnel, local police, national police and volunteers at the command post and search location, regardless of the geographical distance.

Additionally, the STARLINK antenna enables images to be sent in real-time to LabelFuse for facial recognition, object recognition, license plate recognition and recognition of the person in the middle of the urban green space.

Ultimately, with this use case, Zaragoza City Council aims to test and validate how Urban Air Mobility will increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of emergency response and other work carried out by the city’s fire department.

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