This initiative has received one of the EUROP-EURON 2010 Technology Transfer Awards granted by the European Robotics Technology Platform (EUROP), the European Robotics Research Network (EURON) and the European Robotics Association for its advances in the development of new applications and technologies in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles. The project is led by Aníbal Ollero, scientific director of the Advanced Centre for Aerospace Technologies (FADA-CATEC), and involves participation by the Higher School of Engineering of the University of Seville and the Andalusian Association of Research and Industrial Cooperation (AICIA)
RDI in the Andalusian aeronautical sector in the field of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) also has good reason to celebrate. The AWARE Project was one of the winners of the EUROP-EURON 2010 Technology Transfer Awards, which are granted jointly by the companies of the European Robotics Technology Platform (EUROP), the European Robotics Research Network (EURON) —comprising 218 scientific and academic institutions from 27 European countries— and the European Robotics Association (EUnited Robotics). This is the first time that a Spanish innovation project has received this important European award, with none of the country’s universities or research centres having earned this distinction.
The EUROP-EURON Awards, which are of major prestige in academic and technological fields and which recently held their sixth edition, recognise highly innovative technology and its transfer from universities and research centres to companies. AWARE is a Project under the 6th Framework Programme of the European Commission led by Aníbal Ollero, Professor of the University of Seville and scientific director of the Advanced Centre for Aerospace Technologies (FADA-CATEC).
It comprises a consortium of eight universities and companies from five European countries which includes the team of the Robotics, Vision and Control Group of the Higher Technical School of Engineering of the University of Seville and the Andalusian Association of Research and Industrial Cooperation (AICIA).
The Andalusian project was selected for a final which included a total of six participants and was considered by the members of the jury to be the most competitive and the highest level of the six editions held until now. Also recognised this year was the company Alstom Inspection, consisting of the multinational Alstom and the Swiss universities ETHZ (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich) and EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne), which for various years now has been carrying out numerous projects regarding inspection robotics technology. A joint project by the company TRIMO S.D. and the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia) regarding applications for construction was also awarded a prize.
The prize-giving ceremony took place last 11 March, with Professor Ollero attending the event to receive the award.
The AWARE Project is dedicated to research into unmanned aircraft systems integrated with wireless sensor networks, “developing new technology in this field and products and services which are being marketed very successfully by the companies participating in the initiative only a few months after its termination,” highlighted Professor Ollero. More specifically, the project has involved the development and demonstration for the first time in the world of various technologies such as joint transport using three helicopters of a load which a single vehicle could not transport due to payload limitations, an application which could be of commercial interest due to the exponential increase in costs for helicopters carrying loads.
During the final demonstration of the project a load was transported and deposited on top of a 12-metre structure which simulated a building on fire. This demonstration sought to illustrate its interest for applications such as supply of oxygen masks and first aid equipment to persons in the building or deployment of communications equipment. These final tests carried out in Utrera, Seville at the factory of Protec Fire (a company of the Iturri Group), which also participated in the project, validated the application of autonomous helicopters for surveillance, deployment of wireless communications sensors to take measurements in inaccessible places, automatic monitoring of persons and vehicles, detection of fires and even fire extinction by transmitting the coordinates of the fire to a fire engine with an automatic control system for the water cannon.
“Helicopters were also used to collect data from wireless sensors incorporated in fire-fighter clothing which provide measurements of concentrations of gases and temperature to protect personnel, a result which will be marketed by the Seville company”, pointed out Professor Ollero. In addition, the company Flying-Cam, one of AWARE’s collaborators, already markets helicopters developed under the project which have been applied in areas such as inspection of chimneys in chemical plants (avoiding the high costs associated with stopping the plant to carry out checks) and new applications for cinematography and filming of sports events.
With the development of the AWARE Project, the Robotics, Vision and Control Group of the Higher Technical School of Engineering of the University of Seville coordinated by Professor Ollero has continued with its intense activity in recent years in the field of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
This group of Andalusian researchers and scientists has carried out a total of 16 research and development projects in the last five years, making it one of the leading Spanish and European research groups for this type of aeronautical and aerospace technology.
CATEC, which also has Professor Ollero as its scientific director, has also been carrying out important activity in the field of new UAS technology for its transfer to companies in the aeronautical sector. To do so, it has a series of researchers with experience in this technology and is equipped with a fleet of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, along with facilities to carry out experimental flights such as the ATLAS Experimental Flight Centre to be established in Jaén this year.
This is the first time that a Spanish innovation project has received this important European accolade, with none of the country’s universities or research centres having achieved the award before