SUGUS kicks off, a European project for integrating drones into airspace

SUGUS, an 18-month, 485,000-euro, European Union R&D project, is to be carried out by a GMV-led consortium involving also Everis Aerospace, Defense and Security, VVA Brussels, ESSP, FADA-CATEC and Unifly.

SUGUS kicks off, a European project for integrating drones into airspace
SUGUS kicks off, a European project for integrating drones into airspace

SUGUS kicks off, a European project for integrating drones into airspace

GMV has been awarded the SUGUS project (Solution for E-GNSS U‑Space Service), which aims to speed up the takeup of GNSS and Galileo in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) segment. SUGUS, an 18-month, 485,000-euro, European Union R&D project, is to be carried out by a GMV-led consortium involving also Everis Aerospace, Defense and Security, VVA Brussels, ESSP, FADA-CATEC and Unifly.

SUGUS will help to develop services geared towards the effective integration of drones in the airspace. A series of trials will be held to show the benefits of E-GNSS for drone operators as well as its approval by aviation authorities.

The demand for UAV services is steadily increasing, with the potential to generate significant economic growth, as recognized in the 2015 European Union Aviation Strategy. More recently, the 2016 SESAR (Single European Sky ATM1 Research) Drones Outlook Study estimated that the European drone market will clock up 10 billion euros a year by 2035 and over 15 billion euros annually by 2050.

U-Space is a set of new airspace-management services and procedures designed to ensure unmanned aircraft’s airspace access while looking out for operational security, the right to privacy and the safety of persons and infrastructure. These services rely on a high level of digitization and function automation, whether onboard the drone itself or part of the ground-based environment.

Several initiatives are now underway at European level to develop U-Space and work towards the safe and efficient coexistence of manned and unmanned air traffic. At the same time the new European legislation on operating unmanned systems has now come into force, providing a uniform, Europe-wide framework.

SUGUS tasks

Europe is a worldwide pioneer in bringing in common drone legislation. This regulation is broken down into three drone operation categories: Open, calling for no AESA clearance or operator declaration; Specific, where both clearance and declaration will be necessary; and Certified, reserved for riskier operations.

To be able to develop services designed to integrate drones into the airspace, SUGUS will center on the Open and Specific flight categories. SUGUS will demonstrate the benefits for drone operations of the measures implemented at service-provision level and the new EGNSS API (Application Programming Interface) to be implemented in the project.

These benefits included the mitigation of operating risks, improvement of preparation processes and clearance of the operator’s mission. Such measures as expected to ease future urban aerial mobility (UAM) operations, such as aero taxis or parcel delivery.

As the first step in this endeavor, SUGUS will carry out a review of the results of previous E‑GNSS projects while also pinpointing the needs of drone operators and unmanned traffic service providers in complex operations and built-up areas. This analysis will help to define and then implement the new E-GNSS-based API.

SUGUS will also be running several flight trials in complex environments to prove the benefits of drone-operation measures. The overarching idea is to raise awareness and contribute towards drone standardization and regulation in order to maximize the chances of the proposed services being implemented as a U‑Space service.