14 October 2013. In its role as the manager of the IAP Ambassador Platform for Central and Eastern Europe (APCEE), ESPI together with the Austrian Aeronautics and Space Agency organised an information event for Austrian stakeholders entitled “Opportunities for stakeholders in the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) domain”.
There is a growing demand for Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) applications as the domain steadily becomes more important for a wide range of tasks (e.g. border control for detecting illegal action and immigration, search and rescue support, monitoring of infrastructure at remote places to detect damage, geological surveys, monitoring traffic accidents, crisis management, etc.). To date, civil RPAS have been routinely deployed only in segregated airspace or at very low altitudes for safety reasons.
Space is a key enabler for integration of RPAS in non-segregated airspace. Satellite communications, for example, provide a reliable means for both safety and payload communications which allows to fly these systems anywhere, anytime and data collected by the RPAS sensors can be sent in near-real time to the users. Therefore, satellite communication systems can provide a significant added value to RPAS missions and will be a key technology for their future operation within non-segregated airspace. Satellite navigation also plays an important role for UAS as the vehicle can be navigated without using ground based navigation systems as reference. Furthermore, payload data can also be precisely geo-referenced.
The key is to integrate multiple space and terrestrial systems into complete solutions that are designed around user requirements. This is the aim of the Integrated Applications Promotion (IAP) programme, which is successfully increasing the impact of the space sector through projects that generate sustainable services and applications for both existing and new user communities. IAP is already active in diverse application fields ranging from energy grid management to aircraft safety (e.g. Bird Strike early warning and risk reduction), facilitating novel and innovative solutions and services that previously were unimaginable.
In this context, IAP can show a number of successful past and ongoing Feasibility Studies and Demonstration Projects in the RPAS domain. The DeSIRE (Demonstration of Satellites enabling the Insertion of RPAS in Europe) demonstration project, for example, is a joint ESA-EDA initiative aimed at demonstrating the safe insertion of RPAS in non-segregated airspace using satellites capabilities for RPAS command and control, ATC communications and Mission data transfer to ground, in order to satisfy the needs of potential user communities.
Furthermore, in close cooperation with the EC and ESA, the European Defence Agency (EDA) has prepared a Joint Investment Programme (JIP) on RPAS with several projects offering also possibilities for national participation.
In this context, ESPI together with the Aeronautics and Space Agency (ALR) of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and ESA, set up an event in the frame of ESA’s IAP programme. It took place on 3 October 2013 at ESPI premises in Vienna and about 60 people from industry, academia, research institutions and public organisations from Austria and Germany followed the invitation and discussed the opportunities for different stakeholders in the RPAS domain offered by IAP and EDA JIP RPAS. Furthermore, the aim was to give successful examples of projects, to exchange ideas and to stimulate new products and services.
Peter Hulsroj, Director of ESPI, opened the event with a word of welcome and a short introduction of the institute, followed by Elisabeth Fischer (ALR), who gave an introduction and general overview of Austrian space activities. Amnon Ginati, Head of the Integrated and Telecommunications related Applications Department, gave a detailed presentation on IAP, including different activities covered by the programme. With the following presentation by Rita Rinaldo (ESA), the participants got a thorough overview and understanding of recent and ongoing IAP activities in the RPAS domain.
Audience of the event
ESPI Resident Fellow Erich Klock then gave a presentation on “The role of ESPI as Ambassador Platform” (download here). This presentation provided an overview of the role and objectives of the IAP Ambassador Platform as well as of how different stakeholders can benefit from its work. Furthermore, he informed the participants on how to engage with the ARTES Applications programme, focusing on the opportunities for Austrian stakeholders. At the end of the morning session, Hans Starlinger from the Austrian Ministry of Defence provided a detailed presentation on EDA activities in the RPAS domain.
In the afternoon session of this information event, the participants had the opportunity for bilateral meetings with the experts from ESA and FFG in order to discuss concrete ideas and potential IAP projects.