Unmanned Visitors Administration in 2023: Insights from the CEO of Unifly

Unmanned Visitors Administration in 2023: Insights from the CEO of Unifly
Unmanned Visitors Administration in 2023: Insights from the CEO of Unifly

Avionics lately interviewed the CEO of Unifly, Andres Van Swalm, to find out about what Unifly has deliberate for 2023. The enforcement of U-space (the European equal of UTM) laws begins this yr. (Photograph: Unifly)

Unifly, an unmanned visitors administration (UTM) system supplier, has developed a platform for managing the mixing of drones and different superior sorts of plane into low-altitude airspace. 

Avionics Worldwide coated some updates from the corporate in a latest subject of our journal. We spoke with Unifly’s co-founder and CEO, Andres Van Swalm, final Could following the information of a €10 million funding from Terra Drone Company and Japanese authorities fund JOIN. Unifly has partnered with ENAIRE, a Spanish ANSP, to develop an automatic digital drone administration platform. The UTM system supplier additionally launched a UTM platform in collaboration with the Port of Antwerp.

Avionics lately interviewed Van Swalm once more to find out about what Unifly has deliberate for 2023. He famous that the enforcement of U-space (the European equal of UTM) laws begins this yr, and their UTM system might be configured to be U-space compliant. Nonetheless, it’s not designed to solely be U-space compliant. For instance, Unifly’s RPAS Visitors Administration (RTM) platform is utilized by the ANSP in Canada and complies with laws there.

Van Swalm believes that 2023 might be when the drone trade really takes off, and that UTM in addition to U-space will play essential roles in enabling the trade to scale. This yr, Unifly plans to launch one of many first implementations of U-space in Spain in partnership with Indra and ENAIRE. This is likely one of the main goals for the corporate in 2023.

Along with working with Indra and ENAIRE, Unifly can also be working with the Bulgarian Air Visitors Providers Authority (BULATSA) and SkeyDrone, a subsidiary of the Belgian air visitors controller for manned flights. Moreover, Van Swalm shared that they’re in talks with DFS  (Deutsche Flugsicherung), the German ANSP. These would be the foremost focuses for Unifly in Europe within the near-term.

As of January 2023, there are greater than 180,000 drone operators utilizing Unifly’s platforms. The corporate additionally estimates over 80,000 authorization requests have been granted, and greater than 1.5 million flights have been validated utilizing its net and cellular apps. (Photograph: Unifly)

NAV CANADA, the ANSP of Canada, entered into an settlement with Unifly to deploy a completely digitized system for working and managing drones. For drone pilots, the system makes the authorization request course of each simpler and sooner. It will probably help present laws for drones working inside visible line of sight.

Van Swalm remarked within the interview with Avionics, “Along with Nav Canada, we’ll have a look at how we are able to promote the UTM system much more. We may even launch a set of latest options and functionalities for extra intensive use of the UTM system and enabling extra advanced drone operations in Canada.”

He additionally drew consideration to the truth that Unifly went stay in NEOM—a wise metropolis in Saudi Arabia at the moment in improvement. “They’re very formidable and wish to begin flying eVTOLs [electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft] as quickly as attainable, particularly Volocopter.”  

Unifly’s UTM platform might be utilized in NEOM, and the staff will launch a brand new set of options there “to allow very advanced eVTOL and drone operations.”

One present goal for the UTM system supplier is to supply higher help for automated operations which can be carried out past visible line of sight (BVLOS). Their system makes superior flight planning for BVLOS operations a lot simpler.

“We’re persevering with to construct on our API,” stated Van Swalm. “Unifly is there to allow autonomous aviation. It’s not simply utilizing our consumer interface. We’re engaged on user-friendly APIs the place techniques like Volocopter or drone operators can join utilizing an API—they don’t want to make use of our interface.”

Unifly hopes to supply its clients a better diploma of configurability within the coming yr in order that they can configure the system by themselves if they need. Their clients have particularly requested this elevated configurability, Van Swalm defined. “We’ll proceed to construct extra superior U-space functionalities, similar to tactical deconfliction,” he famous.

In accordance with Unifly’s CEO, there are two foremost challenges dealing with the drone trade. The primary is standardization of UTM and U-space. “It’s fairly API-driven; it requires connections, and it will possibly solely work if we standardize,” he defined. “There are a variety of standardization initiatives, however some requirements must be outlined from scratch. To allow communication with one another, we have to work on standardization.”

The second impediment is the necessity to develop the optimum enterprise mannequin for drones. Drone operators have small margins, and it’s not but clear what the very best enterprise mannequin might be. 

“We’re a know-how firm,” Van Swalm commented. “It’s extra a problem for our clients, nevertheless it’s additionally a problem for us. Our clients must know the way they’ll earn cash if they’ll present the service. 

“We’re wanting into how we are able to create a sustainable enterprise mannequin, and what are good costs for drone operators to pay,” he added.