Estonia launches U-space sandbox with ANRA to expand development of drone services

The Estonian Transport Administration, with funding from the Estonian Business and Innovation Agency, has launched a project to develop a concept for a sandbox for automated aviation systems that will be built in Tartu. The tender conducted by Estonian Business and Innovation Agency was awarded to the international company ANRA Technologies and the contract was signed on 21 April 2023.

The establishment of a sandbox will open up opportunities for the wide-scale development and deployment of unmanned aviation technologies. This will prepare the way for innovative aviation concepts and safety standards, and facilitate the safe testing of automated aviation systems.

Tartu Science Park, the Estonian Aviation Academy and Lennuliiklusteeninduse AS are the parties involved in the work.The cooperation project ‘Expertise for the development of an unmanned aviation (U-space) sandbox’ will be funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020.

The long-term aim is to create an innovation environment for unmanned aviation that bridges all key stakeholders, including airspace users, industrial companies and research institutions. This approach is an opportunity to create a sustainable development environment for current and future technologies related to the introduction of unmanned aircraft systems and related solutions.

The results of the research undertaken by ANRA Technologies should be finalised by the end of September and will serve as the basis for the establishment of a sandbox in Tartu, where future U-space service providers and parties developing unmanned aviation technologies will be able to test and validate their services and solutions.

“This is a cooperation project aiming to procure an innovative solution in need of further development, as there were no ready-made solutions on the market. For the Estonian Business and Innovation Agency, this is not only an opportunity to contribute to the development of breakthrough technologies, but also the next step in the advancement of activities to support innovation sourcing. We decided to carry out the procurement ourselves instead of awarding a grant, and the result of the procurement will be handed over to the Estonian Transport Administration,” explained innovation expert Terje Kaelep from the innovation department of the Estonian Business and Innovation Agency.

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