From Feb 28 to Apr 8 2018 DREAMS Project proposed a web survey intended to understand the needs of various categories of drone stakeholders.
The survey focused attention to aspects such as the characteristics of current and future drone operations (as BVLOS operations), aeronautical critical information for drone users and characteristics of user’s interface for the fruition of information.
The variety and complexity of these scenarios, the number of operations expected (millions instead of a few thousand) and the fast evolution of drone technology requires a different approach, using concepts derived from the ICT sector but maintaining the same level of integrity and reliability of the information.
The new unmanned aviation will require a comparable level of information to support the new operational scenarios that are envisaged.
The obtained results support the project activities:
- Identify user’s needs and target scenarios of the study;
- Recognize which information is perceived among users as “critical” to unlock new potential BVLOS scenarios or “nice to have” to enhance the efficiency of flight operations;
- Assess which is the minimum data set of unmanned aeronautical information needed to develop the U-space concept;
- Enquire about the best way to present or integrate this information to RPAS operator’s equipment;
- Enquire about the perceived value for these services among UAS operators, as entrance requirement for VLL BVLOS operations
The study is part of the DREAMS Project that has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking (grant agreement No 763671 under European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme). It was conducted in the context of the U-space exploring the point of view of the two main categories:
Drone Users and Drone Operators;
Authorities, Manned Aircraft Pilots or Others.
As the drones are spreading fast in many businesses and applications, the need to implement a framework able to support safe, secure and efficient access to the airspace for a growing number of drones in all types of operational environments is rising, particularly in an urban context for BVLOS operations.
We proposed 10 questions that intended to obtain a guidance about market expectations in the short-medium period from actual stakeholders of the drone industry.
Concerning the category “Drone Users / Drone Operators”, more than a third of the participants indicated Photography as the intended field of application, with consistency between the three sub categories. Others application, surprisingly, resulted second with the related specifications provided by respondents summarized in:
- civil, industrial and infrastructure inspections;
- cartography and topography
- drone racing
Right after, respondents indicated Mining and Construction, Energyand Agricultureas relevant fields, especially thanks to the contribution of Drone Operators.
Photography primacy could be explained as the easiest field of application in terms of investment needed and technology maturity, considering that most of the commercial drones available on the market embed good quality cameras.
Respondents from category “Authority / Manned Aircraft Pilots / Others” ignored applications such as Mining and construction and Telecommunications. However, that was not the only peculiarity; in fact the Delivery and e-commerce resulted the most expected application (11), followed by Public safety and security(8). Mobility and transport was the third, even with Photography. Differences in the ranking may be due to the nature of this category respondents that mostly are not directly involved in a drone business. Moreover, they could have had in mind mainly drone applications for public interest.
Looking at the aggregated data, Photography emerges as the most expected application, Others as the second (but this datum can be broken down to several application specifications as mentioned above in this paragraph), and Public safety and securityas third. Energy, Delivery and e-commerceand Agricultureshare the fourth place.
Information during flight operations
“Drone Users / Drone Operators” provided importance to Real time positioning of manned aircrafts (54), Obstacles and terrain data (spatial geography) (53), while they seemed to feel as less urgent information concerning Geofenced area and related no-fly zones (45) and Real time positioningof other drones(44) , which anyway share the third place.
The survey has been intended to understand the needs of various categories of drone stakeholders paying attention to aspects such as the characteristics of current and future drone operations (as BVLOS operations), aeronautical critical information for drone users and characteristics of user’s interface for the fruition of information.
Risks during flight operations
Category “Drone Users / Drone Operators” answers show that Presence of (ground) obstacles is the most recurring risk in drone operations, without overlooking Poor GPS/GNSS performance, Presence of birds and Loss of video link. Less frequent risks for this category seem to be the Presence of sudden rainfall and, even more remarkable, Presence of drone traffic.
Real Time data for future BVLOS missions
Both categories rated as more useful Active NOTAMS, Temporarily restricted areas by police and security authority, and Real time positioning of other drone traffic; that with different order. In fact, while Category “Drone Users / Drone Operators” gives more importance to Active NOTAMS andTemporarily restricted areas, Category “Authority / Manned Aircraft Pilots / Others” leans towardTemporarily restricted areas and Real time positioning of other drone traffic.
When specified the Others option, respondents mentioned the importance of positioning data of the drone itself.