Recently ATM had the opportunity to speak with International Aeronavigation Systems (IANS) of Russia about the initiatives they are working on to bring together UTM and ATM to safely share airspace.
One such initiative is very exciting as it’s using advanced technologies to bring UTM management into the ATM management. The project was described as a ‘cyber-physical platform’, where there is the physical airspace and a digital twin in the cyber airspace working together. It all began last year, with a government grant to develop UTM digital certification and BVLOS integration. The grant was provided by the national Technology Initiative (NTI) Support Fund. The Fund provides grants for the government support of NTI centers based within the Russian Federation. These grants are state supported for higher education and scientific organisations out of the subsidies from the federal budget.
Within the framework of the NTI program, IANS was awarded the grant in December of 2019 and is developing a project for the ‘Creation of a digital and flight platform of the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) test site”. Activities are performed in conjunction with the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute named after N.E. Zhukovsky (TsAGI) and the National Research Center “Zhukovsky Institute”. There are more than 40 UAS test sites active globally, but this is the first in Russia.
The site will open during 2021 at the Orlovka airfried in the Tver region. The activities that are planned for this location are to develop and conduct UAS tests, justify the UAS site configuration and its main technical solution. The project strives to provide an accelerated assessment of UAV airworthiness in Russia through a combination of physical and virtual tests. This certification process is mandatory for drones that weigh more than 30 kilograms. In addition, there will be research aimed at radar and meteorological flight support – video surveillance, flying laboratories, etc.
Let’s come back to the technology, this is the really interesting part of what is taking place in this program. The use of digital twins allows flights to take place in digital airspace controlled by artificial intelligence (AI) and enhanced with machine learning. The program is aimed at drone delivery and UTM topics. The AI is being trained to provide accelerated compliance testing and ultimately to even control the airspace. Although today, the AI is only making recommendations.
The idea is that initially AI will be able to control swarm flights. Tests have successfully taken place for the delivery of COVID-19 samples. These were carried out even during stormy conditions. The digital platform for drone certification will be made available to drone operators and manufacturers of UTM/ATM solutions.
Siemens has been selected as an associate contractor of the UAS Test Site project. They will provide methodological support, hardware and software implementation of transferring applied tasks of the UAS Test Site project developed by IANS to its digital platform under the contract. IANS determined that they needed additional outside support for successful completion of the digital twin concept.