Telespazio will participate with ENAC in designing the drone laboratories of the future

26 May 2022 11:00

  • The company will take part in building the Italian national infrastructure dedicated to the testing of satellite navigation technologies within the innovative urban air mobility sector
  • The infrastructure will be designed and validated as part of ESA’s AURORA project, funded by ASI, which has ENAC as prime contractor and Telespazio as technological partner and design authority
  • Advanced air mobility services include the use of unmanned aircraft for urban and suburban mobility, for the transport of people and goods, and for the provision of services

Telespazio, a joint venture between Leonardo (67%) and Thales (33%), has signed a contract with ENAC, Ente Nazionale per l’Aviazione Civile [the Italian Civil Aviation Authority] to design the Italian infrastructure dedicated to the testing of new technologies, products and services for the Urban & Advanced Air Mobility (UAM/AAM) sector.

The contract is part of the AURORA project (itAlian Urban aiR mObility technologies & distRibuted test), funded by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and executed in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). ENAC is the prime contractor in the initiative, with Telespazio assuming the role of technological partner and design authority.

The project fully responds to the UAM/AAM national strategy set out by ENAC in collaboration with the Italian Ministry for Technological Innovation and Digital Transition, and is in line with the SESAR Joint Undertaking initiative.
AURORA proposes to create a distributed technological infrastructure (Test Facility) to include the Telespazio laboratory in Rome dedicated to global navigation satellite systems (GLASS-GNSS Lab-as-a-Service), the Centro Italiano di Ricerca Aerospaziale (CIRA, Italian Aerospace Research Centre) in Capua, and Grottaglie Airport near Taranto, where the Distretto Tecnologico Aerospaziale (DTA, Aerospace Technology District) operates

In Telespazio’s GLASS Lab, the company’s GNSS engineering team will be tasked with creating and developing new technologies and services. These will then be validated in the CIRA laboratories and finally field tested at Grottaglie airport.

To date, the UAM/AMM applications at the development stage include services such as the future urban air transport (aerotaxi) project, the delivery of medicines, biomedical products or goods to remote or disadvantaged areas (also to support the authorities in emergency management), and services to support police forces in the monitoring and surveillance of urban and suburban areas.

“Telespazio is a European leader in the satellite navigation sector, playing a crucial role in key programmes such as EGNOS and Galileo. In AURORA, as the project’s technological leader and design authority, the company will fully leverage its expertise in the most advanced and innovative GNSS services in the context of UAM/AMM. In addition to revolutionising mobility, this sector has a very significant impact in terms of sustainability. AURORA fully responds to UN 2030 Agenda SDG 9 (Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation) and SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities)”, comments Marco Brancati, Head of Innovation and Technological Governance at Telespazio.

In the past few years Telespazio, together with Leonardo, has risen to the challenge in the remotely controlled aircraft sector (which will achieve full autonomy in the future), and has developed its own solutions for the management of drones and fleets. Examples of this commitment include, among other things, the testing of the T-DROMES platform, successfully completed in 2020 and 2021 with the transport of biomedical products between different sites of the Bambino Gesù Hospital, and testing for the ASI URANO project (UAS-RPAS integrated in the national [Italian] ATM system). In the latter, satellite navigation systems (Galileo and EGNOS in particular) have been used for the safe and efficient integration into the Italian ATM system of the UAS/RPAS aircraft class with a take-off weight greater than 150 kg.