New drone traffic integration system tested in Hamburg
A new drone traffic integration system – the European U-Space concept – is being tested for the first time at the Port of Hamburg. If the tests are successful, the concept can serve as a basis for expanding the commercial use of drones, essentially giving drones their own traffic system. U-Space, which coordinates drones with human air traffic, was designed by EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency). If the tests are successful, EU member states are expected to implement U-Space by early 2023.
Droniq GmbH and its parent company DFS, the German air navigation service provider, put the idea into practice by installing a U-Space “sandbox” above the Port of Hamburg, Germany’s largest seaport . The project will cost 1 million euros and is partly funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI). At present, the flight approval process for drones can be lengthy and is seen as a hurdle for the industry, especially in urgent operations. U-Space is intended to solve these problems, even in the case of flights beyond the pilot’s line of sight.
The Port of Hamburg lends itself to drone testing, as the highly automated shipping and logistics industry is poised to heavily rely on drones in the future.
Similar tests were carried out in Switzerland, a country which, although outside the European Union, is a member of EASA. After the successful testing, the U-Space system was deployed throughout Switzerland on August 3.