It is estimated that by 2050 over 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. Therefore, the role cities play in managing not only urban airspace, but our lives in general, has never been more important than it is today. As regulatory changes are underway including a U-space management role for cities themselves, the sooner the cities get familiar with their role in the UAS world, the sooner they will be able to use this technology for the benefit of their citizens. Our vision is to facilitate this transition by providing refinements to the current U-space architecture principles, proposing operational procedures and mechanisms for an effective interface with ATC and U-Space service providers and creating Urban Air Mobility indicators which will enable Smart Cities to include UAM in their Transport Roadmaps.
Our demonstrations have taken place in the cities Antwerp (BE), Aachen (DE) and Heerlen/Maastricht (NL) as part of the MAHHL trans-border region. The de-risking exercise have taken place at the BVLOS DronePort test-facility in Sint-Truiden (BE) as well as at the various premises of the manufacturers centrally linked to the Command & Control Center in Antwerp. Indeed, the drones of TU Delft, HyFly, SABCA and flyXdrive flew (in parallel) in their respective test areas, being in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, while being interfaced with the Helicus Command & Control Center (C2C) located in Belgium. A unique remote fleet management setup was hereby demonstrated in a true European collaborative fashion. Additionally, the connection between EHang and the C2C was demonstrated, where telemetric flight data from a Falcon test drone (in France) as well as the EH216 passenger drone (in China) were effectively interfaced.
Results achieved from the real demonstrations are further enhanced through specific and large-volume simulations in order to test the maximum airspace capacity in Antwerp, Belgium as well as two additional European locations, namely Athens, Greece and Prague, Czech Republic. Lessons learnt are documented in a Performance Assessment and recommendations report, providing refinements to the current U-space architecture principles and creating measurable indicators for UAM which will enable Smart Cities to include UAM in their Transport Roadmaps and set relevant measurable goals aligned with the current Smart City concept and standards.
The SAFIR-Med project’s vision is to achieve safe, sustainable, socially accepted and socially beneficial urban air mobility. SAFIR-Med represents all value chain actors and stakeholder as either project partner (ATC, USPs, Operators, UAS Manufacturers, cities) or formal associate partner (major customers, technology & service providers) at a representative international level. Five unmanned UAV platforms (passenger eVTOL, Hydrogen fuel cell VTOL, AED medical drone, X8 medical transport) will be combined with manned aviation in real life exercises validating technology in real urban environment.
Help urban authorities realise their role and make their first steps in the UAS world
Improve infrastructure contributing to safer transport with a positive social impact
Ensure sustainable infrastructure that is beneficial for society and environmentally friendly
Demonstrate novel public UAM services and service models
Regulation, standards, business prospects and outputs dissemination: Ensure sustainability and mid-term wide adoption of the proposed solution
Challenges for SAFIR-Med are to manage the high density of UAS traffic with safety, ensuring priority to drones, supporting medical operations, when needed. This will be accomplished by providing flight authorisations and ensuring deconfliction between drones at strategic, pre-tactical and tactical level. This includes allocation of areas of operations and validation of "free" trajectories requested by UAS operators. Then, to ensure medical drones' priority it will be required to enable the usage of pre-defined corridors, activated when needed, for the benefit of UAS operating in emergency as well as for inter UAM connections.
This concept is a first step that will evolve based on experience acquired during this demonstration and emerging capabilities.
SAFIR-MED Airspace Management Concept
SAFIR-Med builds upon a major legacy
We commemorate the first wave of Very Large Demonstrator (VLD) projects on which SAFIR-Med further builds to develop a robust European airspace that includes unmanned aviation (U-Space). A great job was done in 2018-2020 by the original SAFIR team that, together with the U-space VUTURA project, laid the foundation for SAFIR-Med project. Many of our project partners, including the current and the previous project coordinator, were involved in one of these two projects. Even before that, starting in 2012 the first interest was registered with medical actors towards unmanned aviation and as of 2014, our partners were actively participating in UAM research projects. Building on these rich experiences will result in developing and demonstrating viable U-space services and capabilities. The new Horizon 2020 (SESAR JU VLD2) project, SAFIR-Med, will specifically demonstrate medical use cases and explore the higher-level U-space services.