Labyrinth EU Project Concludes, Revolutionizing Drone Applications in European Airspace

Labyrinth EU Project Concludes, Revolutionizing Drone Applications in European Airspace

The Labyrinth project, an EU initiative aimed at enhancing safety, security, and efficiency in civil transport through drone-swarming technologies, concluded last month. The Labyrinth project, jointly with its sister project Drone4Safety hosted a Final Dissemination Event in Brussels on May 22 to share the final results. The event provided a platform for both projects to share their achievements and foster networking opportunities.

In June 2020, the European Project Labyrinth was launched. The project was executed by 13 European entities from Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Belgium: Carlos III University of Madrid, Arquimea ADS, DLR, DGT, Telefonica I+D, INTA, Eurocontrol, DIN, PONS mobility, The Authority of the Port System of the Eastern Ligure Sea, Madrid City Council SAMUR, AIT, and innCome. The 13 partners have worked for 3 years on the design and development of applications to revolutionize drone traffic and accelerate European regulation changes.

The project has supported the urgent action on the airspace dimension of SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) for the development of U-SPACE, a new framework designed to integrate drone operations at low levels (below 120 meters) into the existing European airspace infrastructure.

In the Labyrinth project, 4D path-planning algorithms and U-space services were used to create and validate swarm drone applications. To achieve its goals, Labyrinth focused on developing a centralized planning system capable of communicating with drones within a designated area. This system processed drone origin and destination points, computed collision-free paths, and facilitated autonomous air traffic control system integration. By creating this comprehensive infrastructure, Labyrinth aims to establish an era of drone applications in various sectors, including road transport, airports, seaports, and emergency situations.

In road transport, the project envisions a traffic control platform that utilizes drone sensor data to revolutionize road traffic surveillance, enabling functions such as speed control, vehicle distance estimation, and license plate identification. In waterborne transport, continuous monitoring by drones would enhance seaport security and facility management, including monitoring port gates, vessel mooring, and dredging operations.

For air transport, proposed a swarm drone application to enhance safety and efficiency at airports. These drones would perform tasks like bird scaring to prevent collisions, infrastructure checking, and preventing unauthorized access to sensitive airport zones. In emergency situations, drones would be employed for surveillance operations during mass events, aiding in identifying escape routes, and medical assistance points, and facilitating communication with medical and security services.

Throughout the project, Labyrinth focused on three key technical aspects: 4D path planning, 5G communication, and cybersecurity. The project developed fast marching square algorithms for trajectory planning, leveraging 3D simulated scenarios and network restrictions to ensure safe navigation. The use of 5G communication enables continuous communication between drones and operators, eliminating visual line-of-sight or radio links. To maintain cybersecurity, robust encryption techniques were employed, along with measures to detect and mitigate potential attacks on the drone systems.

Looking ahead, Labyrinth‘s partners aim to further research and develop an urban airspace model capable of integrating an increasing number of aerial vehicles with different services. This will ensure efficiency and avoid conflicts. This future development relies on a common regulatory framework, creating added value for end-users, and demonstrating the business benefits of implementing these solutions.

With the successful conclusion of the Labyrinth EU project, the European Union has taken a significant step forward in realizing the full potential of drone technologies. This will transform the civil transport sector. The project’s outcomes will pave the way for regulatory changes, cost reductions, and the emergence of new business models, ultimately benefiting both public and private entities responsible for managing and regulating transport infrastructures across Europe.