With Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones gaining popularity globally for commercial, recreational and industry purposes, hundreds of UAVs may soon be buzzing all over Singapore.
The lower cost of drones and rising demand for commercial drone services have already led to a boom in the number of drones taking to the skies in Singapore.
With Singapore’s limited airspace and dense population, the need for an aerial traffic management system to allow drones to fly safely has become more urgent.
Researchers at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) are studying ways to allow hundreds of UAVs to fly efficiently and safely at any one time.
The aim is to develop a traffic management system for UAVs consisting designated air-lanes and blocks, similar to how cars on the roads have traffic lights and lanes.
Advanced technologies that will be developed include smart and safe routing, detect- and-avoid systems, and traffic management to coordinate air traffic.
Named Traffic Management of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, this initiative is spearheaded by NTU’s Air Traffic Management Research Institute (ATMRI).
ATMRI is a joint research centre by NTU and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). It aims to research and develop air traffic management solutions for Singapore and the Asia Pacific region, including UAV traffic management which is one of its key programmes.
Leading the research programme are NTU Professor Low Kin Huat, an expert in robotics and UAVs from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and ATMRI Senior Research Fellow, Mr Mohamed Faisal Bin Mohamed Salleh.
Prof Low said it is important to develop a traffic management solution for UAVs tailored to actual challenges faced by Singapore given the huge growth of UAV traffic expected over the next decade.
“At NTU, we have already demonstrated viable technologies such as UAV convoys, formation flying and logistics, which will soon become mainstream,” explained Prof Low. “This new traffic management project will test some of the new concepts developed with the aim of achieving safe and efficient drone traffic in our urban airways.”
“The implications of the project will have far reaching consequences, as we are developing ways for seamless travel of unmanned aircrafts for different purposes without compromising safety, which is of paramount importance.”
Professor Louis Phee, Chair of NTU’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said the UAV research at NTU is a natural progression, with the school’s deep expertise in autonomous vehicles and robotics developed over the last decade.
“This research will pave the way for appropriate rules and regulations to be implemented amidst the rapid growth of UAVs. The findings can help improve safety and address security concerns, which are especially important given today’s climate of uncertainty.”
Coordinating centres to track airborne drones
To ensure that traffic is regulated across the whole of Singapore, a possible solution is the establishment of coordinating stations for UAV traffic. These stations can then track all the UAVs that are in the air, schedule the traffic flow, monitor their speeds and ensure a safe separation between the UAVs.
Mr Faisal, the co-investigator of the programme, said various scenarios will be tested out using computer simulations and software to optimise UAV traffic routes, so as to minimise traffic congestions.
“We will also look into proposing safety standards, for instance how high UAVs should fly and how far they should be flying above buildings, taking privacy concerns and laws into consideration, and to suggest recommended actions during contingencies,” said Mr Faisal, who is also Deputy Director at ATMRI.
One proposed strategy is to use the current infrastructure such as open fields for take-off and landing and having UAVs fly above buildings and HDB flats, which can act as emergency landing sites to minimise risk to the public.
Currently, restricted airspace and zones where UAV operations are prohibited have already been identified, such as near airports and military facilities.
The researchers will test out several concepts, such as geofencing. The idea is to set up virtual fences where UAVs can be automatically routed around a restricted geographical location such as the airport.
Another important research area will be collision detection. UAVs will need to have sensors that enable detection and avoidance of collision with another UAV. This will allow UAVs to follow a set of actions to avoid any mid-air incidents, such as flying above, below, or around other UAVs.
This multidisciplinary research initiative will bring together faculty and researchers from different fields in NTU, from aerospace engineering and air traffic management to robotics and electronic engineering.
Spanning a period of four years, the project which will also tap on industry experts, is expected to complete its initial phase of conceptual design and software simulation by end 2017.
This is followed by actual test bedding of solutions using UAVs developed by NTU that can be used for relevant applications in 2018.
Receive an email update when we add a new DRONES article.
The Latest on: Drone air traffic control
via Google News
The Latest on: Drone air traffic control
- SAFIR Open Day: One step closer to integrated drone traffic managementon September 6, 2019 at 5:11 am
Drones continue to capture the imagination and are now playing ... environments while addressing an appropriate interface with manned aviation and air traffic control. When fully deployed, a wide ...
- Corrosion control: Topside drone keeps vessels ship-shapeon September 5, 2019 at 6:41 pm
The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) launches straight up from the deck of the USS Midway, its operator carefully maneuvering the UAV in front of the ship's air traffic control tower. Along the UAV's ...
- NASA’s Air Traffic Control System for Drones Nearing Completionon August 15, 2019 at 12:55 pm
Increasing numbers of drones in urban areas means air traffic control is needed. (Credit: Volodymyr Goinyk/Shutterstock) Highways in the sky are one step closer to becoming reality as NASA conducts ...
- Terra Drone showcases UTM system to Indonesia’s air traffic controller AirNavon August 13, 2019 at 4:23 am
The UTM demonstration was held at the Jakarta Air Traffic Services Center to showcase how drones can be safely integrated into Indonesian airspace Jakarta, August 13, 2019 – Terra Drone Indonesia, a ...
- Alphabet’s Wing launches new app to assist drone air traffic controlon July 16, 2019 at 8:19 pm
Alphabet Inc.’s drone subsidiary Wing Aviation LLC has unveiled a new app designed to help manage air traffic control for drones. Called OpenSky, the app, available for both iOS and Android, has first ...
- Alphabet's Wing introduces an air traffic control app for droneson July 16, 2019 at 11:25 am
This spring Alphabet subsidiary Wing LLC became the first drone delivery company to receive FAA certification, and the company has successfully launched drone delivery service in Australia and ...
- Alphabet Unveils App to Provide Air-Traffic Control for Droneson July 16, 2019 at 8:04 am
The company that brought you free digital maps and e-mail wants to do the same thing for your drone. Wing, an offshoot of Alphabet’s Google, on July 16 unveiled a new app it calls OpenSky that it ...
- Alphabet Unveils App to Provide Air-Traffic Control for Droneson July 16, 2019 at 5:38 am
(Bloomberg) -- The company that brought you free digital maps and email wants to do the same thing for your drone. Wing LLC, an offshoot of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, on Tuesday unveiled a new app it ...
- Alphabet Has High Hopes for Its Drone Traffic Control App OpenSkyon July 16, 2019 at 5:29 am
on Tuesday unveiled a new app it calls OpenSky that it hopes will become the basis for a full-fledged air-traffic control system to manage the expected growth of this new class of flying devices. It’s ...
via Bing News