Vodafone and EASA working together on airport protection from drones: Page 2 of 2

November 23, 2018 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Vodafone and EASA working together on airport protection from drones
More and more drones are on the move in European air space. In Germany alone, more than one million civilian drones were sold in 2017, and the trend is rising. Because these small objects are increasingly posing a threat to the air traffic in the vicinity of airports, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and telecommunications provider Vodafone are testing ways in which security forces can take over control of these aircraft.

The basis for this is the fact that mobile radio can locate threats that are invisible to conventional radar. Based on this knowledge, Vodafone has developed a radio positioning system (RPS) that makes it possible to locate drones. A SIM card fitted to the drones connects the flying objects to the Internet of Things. Artificial intelligence algorithms constantly and accurately calculate the geographical position of a drone. On the basis of these calculations, the system automatically determines whether a drone leaves an agreed flight path. Remote control of the drone from a safety center can protect aircraft, civilians and sensitive equipment from accidents.

For the joint tests, representatives of EASA and the European Commission travelled to Aldenhoven to the 5G Mobility Lab. In live operation, the partners demonstrated that drones can be located and remote-controlled by LTE at altitudes of up to 120 meters above ground. In the next steps, techniques will be tested to keep drones away from no-fly zones. "These tests are helpful in the development of a regulatory framework for drone flights. In this way, we are creating the conditions for important new economic potential in Europe," says Yves Morier, responsible for flight safety standards at EASA.

A study commissioned by the European Union shows that a regulated drone service industry can contribute more than 15 billion euros to the European economy by 2050. This could create 100,000 additional jobs. European companies are considering the use of drones for a wide range of tasks. Small and high-value goods as well as medicines can reach the recipient faster than before with drones. In disaster areas, drones can support rescue forces and provide important live images under dangerous conditions, for example.

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