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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article19 April 20231 min read

Two EU funded projects are exploring how drones can be used safely in cities

Drones have been tipped to offer a wide array of services, including package delivery. However, as of yet drones have struggled to break into the area of urban services. This is mostly due to the necessary safety requirements to ensure that drones do not pose a risk to people below. Two EU-funded projects, DELOREAN and LABYRINTH, are exploring how to safely incorporate drones into cities.

The DELOREAN project is focusing on the tracking systems used by drones, so that they are positionally aware of their current location. A problem in this respect has been to ensure that this tracking information is always available, which can be a challenge in urban areas that have large buildings. Although GPS is commonly used in current drone applications, DELOREAN is testing the use of various satellite tracking systems, including Europe’s Galileo network, which would provide higher accuracy whilst also adding a layer of security. The project has already tested the use of satellite-tracking systems in the Spanish town of Benidorm, which has a skyline of tall buildings, in the off-peak winter season in order for there to be less civilian risk. Further tests will be able to provide information as to whether drones will be able to be safely used in urban settings.

LABYRINTH is tackling a different part of the problem, which is the tracking of other drones in the same airspace, so that drones do not crash into each other. Overcoming this challenge would allow drones to operate autonomously, increasing the viability of their use in mass rollout operations.

The two projects together could open up the avenue for drones to take over different services which, in the example of deliveries, would reduce the amount of cars and vans required on the roads.

Article originally published on the TheMayor website on 7 April 2023.



Publication date
19 April 2023
  • Autonomous and connected vehicles
  • Spain