Airports will use drone surveillance to improve airport safety

Airport Surveillance for Airport Safety (ASAS), a newly granted project led by Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), will address daily operations at airports by integrating the use of drones and making them more automated and remotely controlled in the future.

RISE is leading the project and will contribute with their competences in wireless communications and automation for the drone solution development, as well as business development for market introduction.

Lei Chen, senior researcher at RISE, said: “We need to consider different communication solutions to make sure a certain level of availability and reliability for remote control and data delivery. 5G is one on-going topic which we will have a close look at, especially for use cases at the airports. We will also investigate a seamless integration of such a solution in the current daily operation procedure and establish an innovation platform for future advanced intelligent functionalities.”

The project will be conducted with Luftfartsverket (LFV), Swedish Regional Airports (SRF), Örnsköldsvik Airport (OER) and FlyPulse. They will work together to develop and demonstrate drone solutions to help automate daily operations in airports to  improve airport safety, optimize resource utilization, and reduce environmental impact with multiple stakeholders from authorities, airports, and related professional domains.

Jonas Didoff, senior advisor at LFV and project manager for DRIWS, said: “Instead of using a vehicle to check the airport fences, drones could be used for automatic checking, streaming live video to personnel for supervision. This will reduce costs and vehicle emissions. With advanced detection techniques, the system could also alarm the personnel if fence damages or animals are found on the airport perimeters.“

LFV and OER airports have initialized a program with the vision of the ‘Autonomous Airport’ allowing future-oriented solutions to be tested and evaluated, ensuring safe, cost-effective and remotely controlled automated airports. 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 fueled vehicles are in operation.

Jan Björn, CEO at FlyPulse, said: “The airport is a special environment where close interactions with Air Traffic Control (ATC) and authorities are needed. Our drone solutions need to consider the flight schedules and be able to operate day and night, as well as in harsh weather situations.”

In 2017, connected vehicles were introduced for improving airport safety based on results from the project Digital Runway Incursion Warning Systems (DRIWS) project, where physical stop-lights were replaced by digital signals within the vehicles for preventing ground vehicles from approaching the runway without clearance from air traffic control (ATC).

The project is expected to take 14 months, with a public demonstration in the middle of this year (2019). The project is funded by Sweden’s innovation agency, VINNOVA, through its program on future drones.

Photo credit: RISE