Monitoring of Drone Flights: DFS and Telekom have founded joint venture Droniq

Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS), together with Deutsche Telekom, has developed a solution for integrating drones into aviation with the Connected Drones project, thus enabling drones to be controlled out of sight of the pilot. And it works like this: A GPS module simply attached to the drone and a mobile radio transmitting unit make the drone a kind of flying mobile phone. Via the LTE radio network, the drone sends its position data to the German air traffic control at Langen, which can then use the data to create a current air situation image. This makes it possible for the first time to legally control drones out of line of sight and to automatically integrate them into air traffic. In early May, the joint venture ‘Droniq’ was founded with a majority stake from DFS, got the green light from the antitrust office, and is ready to take off.

Development of new safety systems

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There is always long and lively discussion about the fact that Germans have such strong security concerns about technology and digitization in general, and about automated vehicles in particular. However, many doubts often lead to research and inventions directed toward new security systems. Deutsche Flugsicherung, for example, has developed a system in cooperation with Deutsche Telekom that maps aerial drones in a UTM (Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management) and allows them to be controlled. The data transfer is simply done via the existing LTE radio network that covers the area in the drone flight altitude.

In this case, the oft-mocked ‘German Angst’ merges into ‘German Creativity’ and brings Germany from the frequently evoked technical sidelines to the digital forefront – in this case to the forefront of future management systems of automated civilian drone flights. “Droniq’s most important target groups are primarily industrial flyers from the fields of infrastructure, surveying or agriculture who want to fly drones beyond their line of sight. Next are operational forces of the police, fire and rescue teams, as well as users in the general aviation sphere“, the newly founded company announced at its first official press conferen ce.

How the whole system works is explained by the video from Telekom.

Integration into existing air traffic control systems

The jumping-off point of all this technology is the UTM, which has to be integrated into the existing air traffic control systems: “The core UTM services are supported by Unifly’s UTM framework,” as DFS explains in an earlier release . At the Belgian company Unifly, which is at the forefront of UTMs, DFS holds 23.3 percent since the end of 2018, making it the largest shareholder in Unifly.

As basis for the UTM, DFS uses its own multiradar tracker, Phoenix. The Phoenix system processes the data from the radar systems and displays it in an air situation picture. “This tracker has been adapted to correctly represent drone movement patterns that are very different from conventional aircraft. The aim is to control the aircraft detected by the UTM largely automatically. In order to increase the safety for the manned air traffic as well, it is also possible to connect the UTM to the existing air traffic control systems and thus warn the tower controllers of a possible conflict“, as a DFS press release reads back in 2017.

“#Droniq from #DeutscheFlugsicherung integrates #Drones into #AirTraffic. Drones can now be controlled safely out of line of sight. “

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All together, Unifly’s UTM, the Phoenix multiradar tracker from DFS, and Telekom’s mobile network provide a complete system that for the first time allows centralized management of drones. In the future it should even be possible to include the allocation of start permissions and the adaptation of flight corridors or no-fly zones at all times. So far, this is unique and is to be marketed throughout Europe by Droniq, the newly formed joint venture between DFS and Telekom.

Do you consider the central monitoring and control of aircraft drones with a UTM an important future market in Europe?