In the context of the SAFIR project, Unifly successfully demonstrated the safety and economic viability of integrated drone traffic in a challenging, realistic urban and industrial environment including the city and Port of Antwerp.
Covering over 120 km2, the Port of Antwerp is a very large area with critical infrastructure. In case of calamity, every second counts to avert disaster. The SAFIR project has proven that the use of drones is an immense addition to the safety as the Port authorities can manage, inspect and control a large area in a swift and safe manner.
The SAFIR Open Day proved the ability of drones to safeguard critical areas, such as an international port or an urban environment. It was demonstrated how the Port of Antwerp was able to request a drone to inspect a certain area should there be reason for concern.
In addition, the demonstrations showed how multiple UTM systems can be interoperable, ensuring every airspace user is aware of airspace conditions at all times.
The SAFIR use cases were first successfully tested at the state-of-the-art secured test environment of DronePort in Sint-Truiden. Its large flying areas for both manned and unmanned aviation make DronePort the perfect setup for developing and testing an ecosystem where both kind of aircraft can operate alongside in a safe context.
The demonstrations proved that interoperable, harmonized and standardized U-space services can be deployed in a safe and reliable manner across Europe.
Aveillant, part of the Thales group, deployed radar technology for the ground-based detection of all aerial movements, calculating the likelihood that an unidentified object could be a drone.
During the SAFIR project, leading Belgian telecommunication company Proximus demonstrated their customized, separate mobile (LTE, 4G) network for drone operations as part of the Internet of Flying Things. Their ‘drone layer’ network, as a transition towards 5G, ensures a reliable broadband connectivity in the air and avoids interferences with mobile phone data, guaranteeing the required security levels.
The UTM systems successfully worked together, exchanging information and allowing authorities to effectively manage the drone traffic in the air during the demonstration. At the same time, they showcased the interoperability of their UTM platforms and how they can be interoperable with a traditional Air Traffic Management (ATM) system as well.
SAFIR is a European project. It stands for Safe and Flexible Integration of Initial U-space Services in a Real Environment. The SAFIR consortium was led by Unifly and consisted of 13 public and private organisations, with each organization bringing its expertise to the table.