Drones Security: AcrOSS project tested at the Airport of Grottaglie

A partnership between universities and large and small enterprises tests innovative technologies in Apulia to ensure low flying operations, to protect aircraft and operators

11 February 2022 - The testing phase of the AcrOSS project aimed at the development of technologies - on land and on board - to ensure the safety and efficiency of low flying drones operations starts at the Airport of Grottaglie in Apulia.
Co-financed by the MUIR (Ministry of Education, University and Research) and subsidised by the 2014/2020 European Structural Funds, the project sees the coordination in this testing phase of Aeroporti di Puglia and the participation of the lead company IDS Ingegneria Dei Sistemi SpA, of Exprivia, TopView
- UAS Engineering, of the University of Salento and the University of Bologna. The project focus is on the airspace surrounding airports and sensitive areas generally, for which access authorisation is required.
"We are particularly satisfied of the outcome of these intense working days in the context of the AcrOSS project which has seen the participation, with the coordination in the testing phase of the Apulia Airports, industrial and academic partners of absolute value" declared Antonio Maria Vasile, Vice President of Aeroporti di Puglia. "A project with a high scientific and technological value, aimed at increasingly proposing, through the definition of high security procedures, the integration of commercial air traffic with unmanned aircraft. Once again, therefore, Grottaglie is confirmed as a strategic infrastructure and international excellence centre for the development of the industrial and academic system for the service of the aeronautical and aero-spatial sector, consistently with the guidelines of the strategic plan of Aeroporti di Puglia."
In this important challenge, IDS, a company of the Fincantieri Nextech group and project lead company, has the task to develop a radar system for the detection of drones, together with the development of a system for the localisation of cooperating aircraft, equipped with UTM-BOX, and the implementation of a "Command & Control" system able to integrate multi-technology sensors aimed at the identification and control of the position of unmanned aircraft in real-time within the airport.
In addition to being able to rely on the experience gained by the Company in the Electromagnetic and remotely controlled systems field, the IDS technology also include the use of Machine Learning techniques and algorithms for the classification of radar targets.
The ICT Exprivia group has made software available that collect data in real time to assess the risks of drone malfunctions in flight. Specifically, the Exprivia team has realised a land system that regularly accesses data streams, a flow of heterogeneous data to support flight simulation activities and the performance of recording and playback functions for the reproduction, analysis and investigation of real and reproduced scenarios. The activity avails itself of a 3D geographical system that examines the flight mission, correlating associated events and risk factors.

The project sees the cooperation of the University of Salento, which has tested the integrated operation of some of the technological components of the AcrOSS platform: the web portal for the management and monitoring of flight activities, from the moment of the area booking up to the conclusion of the operations to be made available to pilots and operators involved in the monitoring of air traffic, and a Augmented Reality (AR) system to support pilots in complying with flight restrictions and the management of any emergencies.
In addition to the University of Bologna, another project partner is TopView which, as UAS operator, is responsible for the flight activities in the field and has developed a dedicated Ground Control Station application. The application communicates the drone position to the platform in real time, sends warning messages to the pilot and can assume control to make emergency landings in specific points.
The technological capacities and solutions required for the AcrOSS project are designed to open the way towards a greater access to airspace and minimise the risks linked to operations.