Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Urban Air Mobility – Unmanned Aircraft Systems in urban airspaceHighly automated aircraft varieties are increasingly being used in passenger and air freight transport in both urban and sparsely populated areas. Prototypes grant an initial insight into how Urban Air Mobility might work in the future.
Assistance system facilitates formation flight by manned and unmanned aircraftDLR has tested a system to assist helicopter crews during joint flights by manned and unmanned aircraft.
Unmanned air transportAs part of its work in the field of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, DLR is conducting research into how autonomous cargo delivery can be carried out in the future, with experts investigating an array of applications from initial concept through to practical test runs.
Trialling cooperative behaviour by unmanned helicopters during flight testsBefore the actual flight tests, DLR pilots put the assistance system through intensive testing in the helicopter simulator.
Smart farming – drone-based systems for agricultureDLR is investigating a flying laser system for the extensive and systematic examination of large expanses of cultivated land.
High-flying platforms combine the properties of UAS and satellite systemsDue to their long-term capabilities, high-flying platforms open up new possibilities for applications in Earth observation and land and sea surveillance, and as relay stations for remote areas.
Humanitarian aid – unmanned emergency transport in crisis regionsTogether with the United Nations World Food Programme, DLR is testing the transport of relief supplies using an unmanned helicopter to reach regions that are difficult to access.
Air2XDigitalisation is fundamentally changing our mobility in many areas. In addition to self-driving cars, drones are also playing an increasing role in a future automated and networked transport system.
UAS Lab of the Institute of Flight GuidanceThe Institute of Flight Guidance has been working on the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for years. To this end, it operates the UAS Lab, a flexible laboratory with a generic ground control station for drones as its central component.
Drones in the City-ATM projectFlight tests with drones in the City-ATM project, with which DLR is demonstrating a density-based airspace management concept together with external partners. It provides the basis for making optimum use of a wide variety of aircraft in the airspace.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are already being applied in various ways – supplying poorly connected areas with medicines, providing disaster relief, in agricultural applications and supporting the transport of manufacturing parts between industrial sites. Technological progress has also led to the emergence of a new industry in the field of autonomous systems, with UAS set to become an increasingly prevalent solution for rapid and low-emission personal transport within urban areas or between cities. As air taxis, they will represent a new element of individual mobility and prove an integral part of future transport concepts. In addition to flexible and environmentally friendly air transport in conurbations, such urban air mobility will improve the efficiency of freight and passenger transport in urban locations and overland, as well as taking some of the pressure off road networks.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems pose many new challenges for researchers, manufacturers, operators and legislators. In addition to the purely technical aspects, integrating UAS into the existing airspace also raises complex operational and legal questions that need to be investigated and regulated from scratch. Due to the complex nature of the issues, it is no longer enough to study the subsystems separately, such as looking at the vehicle without reference to flight guidance or statutory regulations. Instead, they should be considered, tested, validated and certified using a whole-system approach.
Research into highly automated UAS and integrating them safely into airspace
DLR has taken on the role of an architect for unmanned flight, forging a link between manufacturers, users and legislators with regard to technical and regulatory issues. Thanks to its numerous institutes, DLR is unique in Europe – having the necessary range of research areas and expertise to address unresolved issues in the headline areas of vehicle technology, flight guidance, legislation and acceptance research. Interdisciplinary research across DLR is also being pooled and tested at the National Experimental Test Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Cochstedt, which provides a unique test field. Not only is this test centre an important platform for networking and coordinating activities in UAS research, but it also facilitates the continued development of UAS technologies. Therefore, DLR is set to play a leading role in the development of scientific and economic progress in unmanned flight.
DLR's UAS research portfolio
- Safe integration of unmanned aircraft in the airspace
- Vehicle design and systems development
- Unmanned Airspace and Traffic Management (U-space/UTM)
- Urban Air Mobility (UAM)
- Performance-based operations
- Swarm research
- Flight termination technologies
- Charging systems
- Detect & Avoid
- Interference-resistant navigation systems
- Safety and cybersecurity
- Testing and validation
- Drone defence technologie
- Acceptance and environment
- Optimal planning and execution of missions for new air traffic participants
- Testing new concepts and technologies
Projects at the Institute of Flight Guidance
AACID Acoustics and aerodynamics for city drones
AURA Information exchange between U-Space and Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems
HorizonUAM Urban Air Mobility (UAM) research at the German Aerospace Center (DLR)
CITY-ATM Safe and efficient integration of new airspace users
CORUS-XUAM Dedicated to implement Urban Air Mobility (UAM) solutions within U-space
DRIVER+ Innovation in crisis management for European resilience
AW-Drones Definition of rules, technical standards and procedures for civilian drones
AIRPASS Development of a comprehensive concept for the integration of drones in Europe
IN-PREP Efficient crisis management thanks to images or videos sent by drones
INVIRCAT Integration of drones into the existing air traffic control procedures and infrastructures within terminal manoeuvring areas
Labyrinth Investigating unmanned air traffic management concepts in real-life scenarios
MaRPAS 2 Researching the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) at sea
MasterUAS Multi-sensor system with 'Detect and Avoid' for the secure integration of UAVs
Master360 Technical solutions to prevent collisions with manned aircraft and other UAVs
PASSport Improving the security and safety in port areas by using UAVs
REACTOR Reducing workload through efficient technologies and procedures
ResponDrone Developing and applying a fleet of drones operated by a single pilot in emergency situations
SAFELAND Development of a sensible ground support concept for a single-pilot-operated flight
URClearED Unified definition of a 'Well Clear'concept in airspaces D to G
USEPE Safe separation of unmanned aerial vehicles in a crowded urban airspace
USpace4UAM 'Very Large Scale Demonstration' on the current state of research and development of UAVs and air taxis
5G-Reallabor (in the mobility region BS-WOB) 5G real-world laboratory
Humanitarian aid with uncrewed aircraft and artificial intelligenceIn the event of a disaster, humanitarian aid organisations need to determine the extent of damage to buildings in the affected location and work out which transport routes are safe to use as quickly as possible – ideally in real time.
'Urban Ray' package drone wins the NASA/DLR Design Challenge 2020This year, the organisers of the NASA/DLR Design Challenge were looking for innovative solutions for the fully automatic and on demand airborne delivery of packages across a city. In late August 2020, seven teams of students showcased their creativity and diverse ideas at the final symposium for the German part of the competition.
The DLR/NASA Design Challenge seeks new ideas for package delivery drones in inner-city areasReaching remote regions of the world in a cost-effective, environmentally friendly way is a concern for the future. Last year, a team of five students from Stuttgart showed how this could be done with their 'HyBird' design, once again demonstrating the creative potential of the next generation of researchers in the DLR/NASA Design Challenge.
DLR tests the City-ATM system at the Köhlbrand Bridge in HamburgParcel-delivery drones, air taxis and uncrewed inspection aircraft will to fly over cities and interact with one another in the future. They must be able to recognise and avoid one another, ideally before even taking off. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and its partners in the City Air Traffic Management (City-ATM) project conducted successful flight tests around the Köhlbrand Bridge in late April 2019 to demonstrate how drones are already able to cooperate with one another, as demonstrated by flying around a bridge, amid active shipping and road traffic.
Drone operations impacted by danger spot – City-ATM Phase 2
In the City-ATM project, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is working with partners to develop an airspace management and traffic control concept for the integration of new airspace participants, such as unmanned aerial vehicles or air taxis, into uncontrolled airspace.
DRIVER+ – Improving crisis management in Europe
For the EU project DRIVER+ (Driving Innovation in Crisis Management for European Resilience), the German Aerospace Center (DLR) provided real-time aerial images in a disaster control exercise in Eisenerz/Austria in order to provide crucial support for situation recording and rescue logistics of disasters in the future.
Christian EschmannCoordinator Unmanned FlyingGerman Aerospace Center (DLR)
Programme Strategy AeronauticsTelephone: +49 2203 601-5110
Annabel BrückmannCommunications AeronauticsGerman Aerospace Center (DLR)
Programme Strategy AeronauticsTelephone: +49 2203-601-5080