From design to the safe integration in the airspace

Un­manned Air­craft Sys­tems

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



Jasmin Begli

Corporate Communications Braunschweig, Cochstedt, Stade and Trauen
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Lilienthalplatz 7, 38108 Braunschweig
Tel: +49 531 295-2108

Christian Eschmann

Coordinator Unmanned Flying
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Programme Strategy Aeronautics
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne

Vanessa Bösche

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
National Experimental Test Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Harzstraße 1, 39444 Hecklingen