Unmanned and autonomous : research projects
For over 100 years, NRL has been a leading knowledge institute for applied research, committed to a better world of tomorrow. We work objectively and independently, for and with the national and international business community and government agencies.
On this page you will find a number of the research projects related to this programme.
Project DigiCity UAM
(Delivery) Drones are mostly categorised between TRL (Technology Readiness Level) 4 and 6. This means that they’re technically capable of flying, but not sufficiently developed to offer a sustainable and modern alternative to delivery vans in a practical environment (such as a city centre). At the heart of this project is the DigiCity test facility for drones, whose goal is to offer SMEs a simulated, flexible and operational urban testing environment, thus forming the missing link between product development and admission to the market, including certification (TRL 7-8). The hydrogen drone will be the first success, which DigiCity will ensure is made compatible for market introduction. At the same time, Avy will be DigiCity’s launching customer, thereby validating the test facility. As part of the project, Avy has been developing a VTOL hydrogen drone, with an intended payload of 15kg, together with NLR.
Goal: The first step is the development of DigiCity – outdoor: a simulated outdoor urban test facility. The facility has a flexible layout through the use of Stelcon plate roads and dozens of stacked 20ft containers. Enabling demonstrations in a realistic urban environment will reveal how the drone would fly in a real life situation. With this high threshold test, risks for potential practical application will be exposed and accurately captured. The second step is the development of DigiCity – indoor: the indoor environment with high tech spaces for digital analysis of the tests, and with the ‘Campus’ as meeting place for entrepreneurs, start-ups and their customers to exchange knowledge and thereby strengthen their innovative potential. The Campus is the place for interaction between business and knowledge. It is also the physical workplace of the business developers.
Partners: Kansen voor West and NLR
This research is focussed on the development of Detect and Avoid (DAA) systems with small sensor(s) for the detection and tracking of other air traffic fitted with transponders. With the sensor(s) developed and a state-of-the-art central computer, an upgraded NLR AirScout Detect and Avoid system will be created. This AirScout system will be integrated within an NLR drone, through which a DAA Flying Testbed will be realised. A demo will be performed with this drone, during which – in an experimental scenario – a DAA avoidance manoeuvre should take place during a Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) logistics flight. Several partners in the project are also being assisted in conducting their test flights at the NLR Drone Flight Test Centre in Marknesse.
Goal: Further development of compact on-board Detect and Avoid systems, in particular a ‘Cooperative Traffic Sensor’ to be able to safely carry out BVLOS flights. Part of this will involve work to produce the NLR AirScout DAA system with reduced weight. This will also be integrated within a NLR drone, through which a DAA Flying Testbed will be realised.
Partners: Embraer, Celestia Tech, TU Delft, AnyWi, ESC Aerospace
The goal of this project is to build knowledge that can contribute towards the safer and more efficient use of satellite navigation in the Netherlands, and with which the Dutch government can be advised about the next generation (G2G) of European satellite navigation systems Galileo and EGNOS. The different characteristics of these systems influence their performance, in terms of accuracy, integrity and continuity of the PVT (Position, Velocity and Time). The robustness and security of the navigation solutions play an important role in this, especially for applications within the vital infrastructures. Solutions target both improving the satellite systems and increasing the robustness of the receiver technologies for critical applications. The need for knowledge in this area stems from the significant expansion in the use of satellite navigation anticipated in a range of market segments. Knowledge building focuses on the performance of the European satellite navigation systems themselves, as well as in combination with other (satellite and non-satellite) navigation systems.
2022-2025: knowledge building for the Galileo Reference Centre (GRC) and Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS) will continue. In addition, focus will be given to situational awareness: Insight into the (anticipated) quality of satellite navigation solutions linked to locations and areas. To achieve this, knowledge will be generated about the different navigation sensors, the integration of these sensors and the accompanying performance. Measurements will also be taken of GNSS interference and knowledge developed about the use of this information for supporting satellite navigation users. For unmanned application in particular, this is an extremely relevant issue. On the basis of this kind of information, drone operations plans can be drawn up, or amended in-flight.
Partners: Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management