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AMU-LED is a Very Large-scale Demonstration (VLD) project funded by the SESAR joint undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The programme demonstrates the safe integration of different types of manned and unmanned aircraft in Urban Air Mobility (UAM) to realise increasingly sustainable smart cities.
Real test and simulations enable the exploration and demonstration of the use cases surrounding Electronic Vertical Take Off and landing (eVTOL) and Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights. AMU-LED utilises more than a hundred flight hours of both manned and several unmanned aerial systems (UAVs), testing within the following areas:
- Cargo transport
- Delivery of goods and medical equipment
- Inspection of infrastructures
- Police surveillance
- Emergency services support
The AMU-LED project will target two main objectives:
Safe interaction of UAM with other airspace users
Defining and testing U-space services and technologies to provide means to coordinate and integrate safely UAM operations with other air space users, including manned aviation and Air Traffic Control (ATC) coordination.
Safe UAM flight
Exploration of the requirements of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) platforms to fly and navigate safely.
In collaboration with Satellite Applications Catapult, Cranfield tested cellular and satcom communication capabilities on the multi-copter platform, enabling an internet connection on-board. Alongside the real flights, Cranfield University acted as a virtual Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) operator as well.
As part of the wider project an AAM simulator demonstrated at Cranfield was presented. They provided a virtual reality experience of an air taxi pilot and passenger system. The decentralised architecture mechanisms and procedures across the multiple USSP environments are demonstrated, and deployment of the U-space services are visible at all levels by considering the key technologies and capabilities over fully autonomous Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Partnering with Boeing, Cranfield’s exploration of the contingency management procedures considering emergency operations and contingency actions also help to meet the projects overall criteria.
A critical step toward resilient automated BVLOS flight is the integration of SATCOM and cellular communications expanding many opportunities for future work with Cranfield University developing future aviation capability. Through the transmission of flight telemetry data from the UAV autopilot flight controller over the resilient hybrid communication network, effective safe operation is further established. At the Satellite Applications Catapult we are proud to be a participant of the AMU-LED project. As a company, we provided analysis of options of communication system devices for UAVs. A focus was global satellite connectivity and cellular, whilst enabling data transfer supporting holistic autonomous communications and data monitoring in both operations and simulated environments.
FFC development is taking form utilising rehearsals of the AAM concept where all the real and simulated SPV / HPV flights through various platforms and the Air Traffic Management (ATM) are integrated within a co-simulation framework. Three demonstration campaigns have taken place within the United Kingdom (June 2022), Netherlands (August 2022) and Spain (September 2022), through these three demonstrations the status of the technological developments have been established and presented, the consortium can now look toward future development continuing to integrate drones fully into society.
AMU-LED demos at Cranfield, Netherlands and Spain are all significant steps in the right direction towards the future of AAM concept, providing validity of research and helping to bring integration of new technologies closer toward becoming a reality in the future of airspace, all through key integration with cellular and satellite communications.