The key aim of the project is to identify use cases that address the needs of daily operations at airports, develop and demonstrate drone systems that help automate airport operations, improve airport safety, optimize resource utilization, and reduce environmental impacts.
A world first and a big step towards automated airports, LFV introduced Remote Tower Center (RTC) in 2015, which enabled traffic control for the OER airport to be taken over by Sundsvall/Midlanda airport (SDL) through remote control. Again in 2017, connected vehicles were introduced to improve airport safety based on results from the project DRIWS – Digital Runway Incursion Warning Systems, where physical stop-lights were replaced by digital signals within the vehicles to prevent ground vehicles from approaching the runway without clearance from air traffic control (ATC).
To further develop airport automation, LFV in collaboration with OER airports has initialized a program to realise the concept of an “Autonomous Airport”. The program will test and evaluate future-oriented systems to enable safe, cost-effective and remotely controlled automated airports. One application area involves the integration of drones in daily airport operations.
See also: Applying V2X technology to drones
Airport inspection includes many routine tasks such as frequent border surveillance of airport fences, wild animal detection and runway surface conditions. These tasks are usually time and labor intensive and introduce emissions when fossil fuel vehicles are in operation.
“Instead of driving a terrain vehicle to check airport fences, electrically powered drones could be used for automatic checking and streaming live video to personnel for supervision. This will save considerable amounts of time and daily vehicle driving and thereby reduce costs and vehicle emissions,” says Jonas Didoff, senior advisor at LFV and project manager for DRIWS. “With advanced detection techniques, the system could also alert personnel to fence damage or if animals are present at the airport perimeter.“