EUSPA funded research projects take flight

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Three EUSPA supported projects help advance Innovative Air Mobility with Galileo services

Innovative Air Mobility (IAM) is an air-based transport system that integrates new aircraft designs and technologies, including drones, Urban Air Mobility (UAM) concepts and eVTOLs, into today’s airspace operations. In doing so, it will revolutionise how we move people and goods while also making transport more efficient and effective. According to EASA, IAM is defined as “the safe, secure and sustainable air mobility of passengers and cargo enabled by new-generation technologies integrated into a multimodal transportation system”.

Through such funding initiatives as Horizon Europe and Fundamental Elements, EUSPA is supporting numerous research and development projects working within the IAM sector as well as aerial operations (e.g. surveillance, inspections, mapping, telecommunications networking, etc.). 

One of those initiatives is the DEGREE project. Funded under the Fundamental Elements mechanism, the project is developing a cutting-edge Galileo dual-frequency GNSS receiver. By leveraging the unique features of Galileo, the receiver will help Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) safely integrate into non-segregated airspace and into U-space, the EU’s UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system. 

The DEGREE receiver is unique in that it leverages the Galileo Open Service Navigation Message Authentication (OSNMA) service to detect certain types of spoofing attacks. 

“OSNMA stands as a formidable defence against the tampering and spoofing of navigation data, which is essential to the safe integration of UAS into the airspace,” explains DEGREE project manager Sergi Dueñas Pedrosa. 

While the OSNMA provides defence against some spoofing attacks, the project’s use of the Galileo High Accuracy Service (HAS) enhances the receiver’s ability to operate in situations where high positioning accuracy is required. 

According to Dueñas Pedrosa, the integration of Galileo’s OSNMA and HAS services into the GNSS receivers takes the operational capabilities of a UAS platform to a whole new level both within Europe and beyond. “These services not only provide navigation-level authentication and better accuracy, they also provide confidence and assurance that the navigation system integrated into a customer’s platform can handle the stringent requirements for such critical operations as emergency management or the transport of medical goods,” he says. 

Earlier this year, the project successfully conducted flight tests to validate the performance of its GNSS receiver.

Helping drones safely navigate low altitude airspace

Also working on the GNSS receiver front is the GEODESY project. The Fundamental Elements supported project has developed a multi-constellation, multi-frequency Galileo GNSS receiver that will help drones safely navigate the low altitude airspace that defines most urban areas.

Learn how GEODESY supports drones achieving robuts navigation performances.

The receiver, which uses both the Galileo OSNMA and HAS, is designed to achieve robust navigation performance, as well as critical technical and operational requirements. 

The project also added integrity features into the navigation system. 

That system was recently tested on two drones, one fixed-wing and one rotary-wing, at the ATLAS experimental flight centre, during which the GNSS receiver was able to achieve such key operations as automatic take-offs and landings.     

Addressing IAM’s safety and security issues

Addressing the safety and security of IAM applications that rely on Position Navigation and Time (PNT) technologies powered by EGNSS is GAUSSIAN. The Horizon Europe funded project aims to demonstrate how combining the authenticated Galileo signals with integrated GNSS/INS platforms will result in greater robustness against spoofing attempts and the better continuity and availability of PNT data in constrained environments. 

“GAUSSIAN wants to mitigate some of the security risks and concerns that originate from the real needs of flight operators, and we want to do so by leveraging advances in existing PNT technologies,” explains GAUSSIAN project coordinator Daniele Stopponi.

The project also intends to use the Precise Point Positioning (PPP)-RTK corrections provided by the Galileo HAS to help improve PNT data accuracy. 

“Starting with existing concepts, prototypes and components developed by different companies, we are focused on creating new integrated and certified products for the rapidly evolving advanced air mobility market,” adds Stopponi.

Thanks to the work being done by GAUSSIAN, along with that of the DEGREE and GEODESY projects, IAM and aerial operations are on track to not only take off, but to do so in a way that will make air transport safer, quieter and more sustainable.  

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