09 November 2020

Two years from now, Sweden’s first test flight of an autonomous drone will be made between Norrköping and Linköping. Luftfartsverket, Linköping University and Independent Business Group are collaborating in a project to demonstrate the societal benefits of drone-supported services.

Areal view over the port of Norrköping. Pavliha/iStock

“This project unites not only several actors in eastern Sweden, but also the research that LFV (Air Navigation Services of Sweden), and Linköping University have been conducting together for more than ten years. We regard this as a good example of a successful ‘triple-helix’ collaboration between business, research and the public sector”, says Martin Rantzer, head of the Department of Science and Technology at Linköping University.

The flight is planned for the autumn of 2022, and will use a drone model that can carry a load of 10 kilogrammes for at least 50 kilometres. The project is one component of a major European initiative, and Östergötland is one of six locations in Europe that will carry out this type of demonstration using drone-based services in urban environments. The others are Paris and Brussels, and locations in Germany, Italy and Spain. The flight between Linköping and Norrköping will be made from one urban environment to another, and this involves special challenges.

Much of the work between now and 2022 will focus on environmental and safety aspects. Risks must be identified from several perspectives, and continuous assessments of air safety are crucial in flights of this type. The research at Linköping University in this field leads the world. Jonas Lundberg, professor in the Department of Science and Technology at Linköping University, explains:

“Our research concerns how interactive visualisation should be designed to examine drone flight from several points of view. If we are to exploit the potential of drone transport, it is important that societal actors understand the consequences for their operations. It is also important that air traffic controllers can direct the traffic and use the airspace to meet society’s needs in the future.”

Collaborators in the project include LFV, Linköping University, Independent Business Group and Katla Aero.

Translated by George Farrants


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