Un­manned Air­craft Sys­tems

Urban Air Mobility – Unmanned Aircraft Systems in urban airspace
Ur­ban Air Mo­bil­i­ty – Un­manned Air­craft Sys­tems in ur­ban airspace
Image 1/10, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Urban Air Mobility – Unmanned Aircraft Systems in urban airspace

High­ly 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 aircraft
As­sis­tance sys­tem fa­cil­i­tates for­ma­tion flight by manned and un­manned air­craft
Image 2/10, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Assistance system facilitates formation flight by manned and unmanned aircraft

DLR has test­ed a sys­tem to as­sist he­li­copter crews dur­ing joint flights by manned and un­manned air­craft.
Unmanned air transport
Un­manned air trans­port
Image 3/10, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Unmanned air transport

As 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 tests
Tri­alling co­op­er­a­tive be­haviour by un­manned he­li­copters dur­ing flight tests
Image 4/10, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Trialling cooperative behaviour by unmanned helicopters during flight tests

Be­fore the ac­tu­al flight tests, DLR pi­lots put the as­sis­tance sys­tem through in­ten­sive test­ing in the he­li­copter sim­u­la­tor.
Smart farming – drone-based systems for agriculture
Smart farm­ing – drone-based sys­tems for agri­cul­ture
Image 5/10, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

Smart farming – drone-based systems for agriculture

DLR 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 systems
High-fly­ing plat­forms com­bine the prop­er­ties of UAS and satel­lite sys­tems
Image 6/10, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

High-flying platforms combine the properties of UAS and satellite systems

Due 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 regions
Hu­man­i­tar­i­an aid – un­manned emer­gen­cy trans­port in cri­sis re­gions
Image 7/10, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Humanitarian aid – unmanned emergency transport in crisis regions

To­geth­er 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.
Image 8/10, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)


Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion 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 Guidance
UAS Lab of the In­sti­tute of Flight Guid­ance
Image 9/10, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

UAS Lab of the Institute of Flight Guidance

The 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 project
Drones in the City-ATM project
Image 10/10, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Drones in the City-ATM project

Flight 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
  • Certification
  • 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

17 articles
  • Christian Eschmann
    Co­or­di­na­tor Un­manned Fly­ing
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Pro­gramme Strat­e­gy Aero­nau­tics
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-5110
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
  • Jasmin Begli
    Braun­schweig, Cochst­edt, Stade and Trauen
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
    Telephone: +49 531 295-2108
    Fax: +49 531 295-12100
    Lilienthalplatz 7
    38108 Braunschweig
  • Vanessa Bösche
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Na­tion­al Ex­per­i­men­tal Test Cen­ter for Un­manned Air­craft Sys­tems
    Telephone: +49 30 67055-8312
    Harzstraße 1
    39444 Hecklingen

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Detect & Avoid

‘See and avoid’ is the principle on which collision prevention is based while flying in good weather conditions. Since no ‘direct sight’ by the pilot is possible for unmanned air transport systems, technical solutions must be found for ‘detect and avoid’.


U-Space describes the framework for integrating drones into current airspace management systems.

'Well Clear'

‘Well clear’ in aviation describes a status in which a pilot declares the situation of his aircraft vehicle as safe in relation to its surrounding traffic.