First step towards a drone test centre Minister Althusmann handed over grant for "Flybots" project
The aim of “Flybots” is to create an infrastructure at the Braunschweig research airport as the basis for a future drone test field in the realistic and relevant environment of an airport. Even though drones have already become part of everyday life, there is still a lot of technological and safety/regulatory groundwork to be done before they can be industrialised on a large scale. Technische Universität Braunschweig and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will therefore develop an aerodynamic propulsion test rig, a drone cage for safe flight testing and a mobile system for drone detection. Lower Saxony’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Dr Bernd Althusmann, handed over the grant for the “Flybots” project on May 11, 2022.
The range of possible applications for drones in urban areas, but especially in rural areas, is very wide. It ranges from transport tasks in public and internal areas, to monitoring tasks in coastal and environmental protection, to special tasks in the agricultural industry, as well as support for maintenance and servicing tasks.
The planned drone test field at the Braunschweig research airport will provide the opportunity to investigate corresponding technologies and interactions in a fully controlled environment. These can be carried out in modules as well as in combination with each other and include protected laboratory environments as well as tests under controlled open-field conditions.
One goal is to provide companies and start-ups in the field of drone manufacturing and operation, as well as licensing and certification authorities, with a modular test environment for future UAVs and UASs.
The “Flybots” concept makes it possible to combine the capacities of DLR in Braunschweig with those of TU Braunschweig in the field of drone testing and trials. The Braunschweig research airport, where both partners are actively working together, offers an excellent framework for this. In future, the research airport will also provide access to the flybots infrastructure for other partners and interested companies.
The overall concept consists of three main components:
- A test rig for drones and their drive units under a combination of aerodynamic and EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) conditions: This allows drones to be tested under load conditions simultaneously with regard to electromagnetic interference effects of the drone on electronic systems as well as safety of the flying drone itself against targeted interference attacks.
- A so-called drone cage for carrying out real yet safe flight tests in the vicinity of the airport: The construction would consist of a special safety net spanned by several steel piles. The drone cage would be closed on all sides so that no flight test carrier can leave this volume. The size of the drone cage also allows the replication of urban development on a reduced scale.
- The development of independent, transparent drone detection systems is intended to increase confidence in the further development of drone capabilities while protecting established manned aviation, the privacy-sensitive public, and spy-prone innovation industries.
In the “Flybots” project, the Institute of Jet Propulsion and Turbomachinery, the Institute of Flight Guidance and the Institute for Electromagnetic Compatibility at TU Braunschweig will, among other things, work on the aerodynamic design of the wind tunnel as part of the Aerodynamic Laboratory for Drone Propulsion and EMC, the installation of the measurement technology and its commissioning and testing.
The cooperation partner is the German Aerospace Center (DLR) with the Institute of Flight Guidance and the Institute of Flight Systems. Funding from the Lower Saxony Ministry of Economic Affairs, Employment, Transport and Digitalisation amounts to 1.7 million euros over a period of approximately two years (from 2022 to 2024).