Simlabs attended the GUTMA Annual Conference 2018 on UAV (unmanned air vehicles) and UTM (unmanned traffic management) industries that are currently at the early stage of their evolution. Regulation and legislation for unmanned air traffic management are not yet fully formed, and business applications, as well as UAVs themselves, are still in process of rapid development. “We are at a defining moment for the industry, and the GUTMA annual conference will be a critical waypoint, where we will determine how we move forward over the next few years”, as was said by the Secretary General of Global UTM Association Benoit Curdy to welcome involved parties.
GUTMA Annual Conference did become a big event for all the areas associated with UAV, as the conference gained various stakeholders interested in UTM services development: USS (UAV Service Supplier), CAA (Civil Aviation Authority), local authorities, police forces, UTM systems developers, UAV manufacturers, insurance companies, and many others. Strategic issues of UTM development and possible ways of their solutions were discussed, new concepts were introduced along with implemented and used services being demonstrated. The primary issue of the discussions was the number of private drones that continues to grow, increasing the risk of incidents involving drones in proportion to their number, and already exceeds the number of daily flights performed about 10 times according to TechCrunch e-magazine. GUTMA participant & representative of one of Airbus Projects called Altiscope suggested thinking of conditions when at least 1% of inhabitants perform one drone flight per day basing on Paris population: in this case number of drones in flight can reach up to 22 thousand daily. It is obvious that such conditions should be regulated and comply with UTM rules in order to reduce any risks.
The introduction of UTM services like registration, submission, and verification of the flight plan, tracking, etc., goes on in many countries. Most countries are working on UAV and UTM regulation by creating services for UAV flight plans supply and processing, using existing solutions presented on the global market or delegating development to a vendor. In most countries regulation is manifested in UAV flights being conducted under pilot control during daylight hours and in visual line of sight (VLOS flights). As for BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) flights, those are available in very few countries for very limited list of operations so far, mostly on specialized polygons where BVLOS flights can be carried out. Therefore, the possibility of performing an autonomous UAV operations is pretty much impossible in most of the cases now. At the same time, autonomous BVLOS flights open fundamentally new opportunities for different services and businesses.
According to GUTMA reports, there are several reasons why UAV based global services can not be implemented relying on the current general rules of the UTM. One of the barriers to the global services with the use of UAV development is the difference in the legislation of different countries. As an example, different states have different laws regulating the use of drones in the USA. The situation resulted in the UAS (unmanned aerial system) Integration Pilot Program being launched in order to overcome obstacles and differences in regulation in the US and to give an opportunity for state, local, and tribal governments to partner with private sector entities, such as UAS operators or manufacturers, to accelerate safe UAS integration. Another discussed issue was the fact that until all owners of drones use the regulation services, with an increase in the number of flights, UAV inevitably leads to an increase in the number of different incidents involving UAV while performing an inside or an outside the country flight. Moreover, the issue of the services integration was raised by a Geneve Police representative, in particular, the drones registration system in a case when a drone is registered in one country, but enters a different one with the same registration, or a cross-border flight case for a drone proceeding a flight from Switzerland to France.
On the other hand, not everyone restrains the use of current UTM state and its problems solutions:
- e.g. Dubai is positioning itself as one of the world leaders in the introduction of unmanned technologies running a program that is maintained at the level of the UAE administration and has a goal of introducing unmanned taxis and UTM infrastructure by 2020;
- as another example, a live demo of UTM in Spain with the support of several companies developing solutions in the field of UTM and ATM was demonstrated during the conference as the first UTM end-to-end demonstration (from registration, flight-plan publishing, approval and then flight) that took place in Spain this year, day two of the GUTMA Annual Conference, when three drone flights were managed by an integrated ATM/UTM system and tracked by an independent non-cooperative surveillance network.
- the Fling company spoke about Machine Learning usage for the organization of Tactical Deconfliction;
- the NEC company described the market mechanisms usage for airspace distribution and verification of flight plans;
- GUTMA continues to work on the common protocol standards for the transmission of telemetry and UAV flight plans: Flight Logging Protocol & Flight Declaration Protocol;
- not to forget Google’s Project Wing teamed with AirMap, Unifly, Altitude Angel, and PrecisionHawk who discussed the implementation of the USS-USS open-source interconnection platform project, as well as the development and imminent release of the source code and the API of its software implementation called InterUSS that executes a multilayer grid-based structure for allocating space between different USS (unmanned service providers), as well as organizing the transfer of USS information.
In any case, the regulation of UAV and UTM industries is at an early stage of development right now. Ahead is the introduction of autonomous BVLOS drone flights, the use of UAVs for different businesses, the safe interaction of various U-space users (taxis, delivery carriers, hot air balloons, etc.), which requires additional regulators to regulate flights to U-Space.
Despite the fact that some experiment with real unmanned aerial vehicles, risking equipment along with the safety of people if the tests are conducted in unregulated places, others use simulation and modelling as very good tools when you do not have capabilities to use airspace or you do not have access to UAVs or exact types of UAVs. Virtual environment provides you with a wide range of tools to demonstrate use cases, verify procedures and rules, simulate data flows and artificial situations that are not available or very expensive in real life. With web-based UAV Simulation Environment one could perform tests, demonstrations, generate data flows with different UAVs applications and models to verify assumptions or check different rules or approaches. UTM system developers can use simulator to simulate their system in wide range of scenarios (malfunctions, huge workload, integration with other UTM/ATM). CAAs (Civil Aviation Authorities), ANSPs (Air Navigation Service Providers), or ATM/UTM system users can perform training and teach people how to cope with UAVs and manage fleets. Rapidly growing UAV traffic requires an early regulation and collaboration with different stakeholders, and that may become a hard and time-consuming task. Simlabs will soon be ready to offer you the use of the UAV Simulation Environment and is open to cooperation.