Drones get ready to conquer the airspace of cities | TECHNOLOGY

The AURA project for air traffic management and U-Space promoted by SESAR JU will address one of the main obstacles that prevent drones from taking off in cities: the safe integration of this type of aircraft in the airspace at very low altitude without affect conventional air traffic operations in controlled airspace.

Every large city has one or more airports in its vicinity that establish restrictions on access to airspace. These limitations affect in some cases the airspace of the city itself, which completely nullifies the possibilities for the development of urban air mobility and all the potential for economic development and job creation that it offers.

This is where the AURA consortium comes into play, made up of navigation service providers, technology providers, and leading research organizations from all over Europe, coordinated by Indra.

Together, they will work to integrate Very Low Airspace (VLL) management, also known as U-Space, with the traditional air traffic systems that airport control centers and towers use to manage flights. The interfaces to be established between the U-Space and air traffic management systems (ATM / ANS) will also facilitate the management of operations safely above the low-altitude VLL level.

This will open the door to the development of a completely new sector linked to drones that will boost the economy, increase the competitiveness of companies in all areas and improve public services.

Inspections and maintenance work, logistics services, disaster intervention, as well as drone manufacturing and maintenance work and unmanned air traffic management (UTM) services will be among the activities that will benefit first.

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To make this objective a reality, the AURA Project partners will determine the information that the UTM and ATM systems must exchange to guarantee the security of the operations.

The consortium will develop the procedures and systems that will support the necessary interface between both systems to manage high volumes of unmanned air traffic operating simultaneously in the same airspace safely.

This exchange of information will facilitate an accurate view of the flight situation at all times, ensuring the safety of operations.

The complete operational concept and development of the systems in the AURA project will be tested in a series of validation exercises at different locations in Europe. These exercises will combine real flights and simulations with real air traffic to validate solutions and procedures.

The AURA project is the first industrial research project managed by SESAR JU that is dedicated to U-Space, the European Commission’s initiative for the safe integration of drones in airspace. The results of this project will facilitate the work of regulatory bodies, which are working to establish the rules that will govern urban air mobility and will facilitate the development of technological standards and solutions shared by all manufacturers and operators.


  • Funded by the Horizon 2020 program of the European Union, the AURA consortium working on this project of the SESAR program is made up of 22 companies from 14 countries
  • The project develops solutions and procedures to integrate conventional air traffic management (ATM) systems with the systems that will manage the U-Space and will make drone operations possible in cities.
  • Drones will boost the competitiveness of the entire economy and bring huge potential for economic growth and job creation. The inspection of infrastructures, logistics, disaster intervention and work related to the manufacture and maintenance of drones and unmanned traffic management (UTM) will be among the first beneficiaries.
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