ESA title

INVOLI: safe integration of drones into air space

24/01/2019 439 views 1 likes
ESA / Applications / Telecommunications & Integrated Applications / Technology Transfer

ESA BIC Switzerland start-up INVOLI provides a solution to increase air traffic awareness on existing drone systems, without modifying the drone’s hardware. Meet INVOLI at the 10th ESA Investment Forum in ESOC 31 January 2019.

A real-time air traffic understanding is the compulsory step to allow the safe integration of millions of drones into the airspace.

INVOLI provides a solution to guardrail the sky, enabling drones to automatically avoid any other flying object when on a collision course with airplanes, helicopters, other drones, parachutists etc. and especially in the lower airspace below 150m that is often a blind spot even for conventional air traffic control.

The patented technology collects the currently missing air traffic data with a focus on the areas not covered by traditional radars and transmits it to the drone, empowering it to become autonomous and to fly safely.

Data is acquired by a dense ground-based network of Micro Control Tower (MCT) installed on telecom infrastructure and shared over the dedicated INVOLI online platform or via API to enable automatic collision avoidance, thus empowering the drone to become fully autonomous. 

Through state-of-the-art algorithms and artificial intelligence to process the data, drones can achieve all their potential in the safest of ways.

Re-direct to avoid air space conflict between drone and aircraft
Re-direct to avoid air space conflict between drone and aircraft

“Our system is the missing link in the development of a shared sky by permitting situational awareness, automatic collision avoidance and safe air traffic management,” says Manu Lubrano, INVOLI CEO.

“The INVOLI technology will have many positive effects on society. It will finally allow fully autonomous drones, which will revolutionize areas such as transport of goods or people, rescue in disaster situations, agriculture, inspection, etc.”

INVOLI objective is to become a central element of future smart cities capable of centralizing data streams of all kinds of autonomous vehicles, including drones.

INVOLI entered ESA Business Incubation Centre Switzerland at the beginning of 2018 to boost the development of their solution and to strengthen partnership opportunities.

Located in Lausanne, Switzerland, the team bring together technologic, commercial and legal expertise, combined with a profound understanding of the drone and aviation worlds. Care has been put into creating a team having complementary skills, backgrounds and competencies, but also to shape it in a way to provides the best results. The team includes:

Tristan Chevignard, Melanie Guittet, Manu Lubrano, Steven Roelofsen, Christina Mihalachioiu and Damien Rochat
Tristan Chevignard, Melanie Guittet, Manu Lubrano, Steven Roelofsen, Christina Mihalachioiu and Damien Rochat

Manu Lubrano: Ph.D. in Manufacturing Systems and Robotics. Former Head of Industrialization at senseFly. Founder of Drone Adventures. Private pilot and drone pilot wide network in the drone industry.
Melanie Guittet: MSc. Engineering. Master project at Caltech (US) in the Aerospace Department. Certified project manager with a wide network in the aviation industry.
Cristina Mihalachioiu: MA. in Business Law and an experienced legal specialist. Communication and public relations expert also for relations with authorities.
Steven Roelofsen: PhD on Vision-Based Sense and Avoid Systems for Drones with a MSc. Robotics and Autonomous Systems and a Minor in Space Technologies.
Damien Rochat: Software engineering with focus on back-end development.
Tristan Chevignard: MSc. in Logistics and International Transportation. Former Head of Supply at senseFly. Logistics specialist with expertise in international business development.
Ricardo Pereira: Electrical Engineer and specialist in PCB and antennas.
Darius Merck: Flight pilot.

Current status and next step
Through large-scale pilot projects in partnership with strategic partners, INVOLI confirmed the needs of clients and aligned them with authorities. Main achievements include:

- Testing system in 2017 in an internal airport with the World Bank
- Pilot project with Swisscom in 2018 for antenna network in Western Switzerland
- In Tanzania providing full air traffic data for drone flights during Lake Victoria Challenge trials
- Part of Airbus-led mobility project on drone taxi and urban air mobility in several European cities

The next steps for 2019 include setting up of international pilot projects to expand INVOLI capabilities, well advanced in Tanzania and France.

10th ESA Investment Forum
INVOLI will participate to the 10th ESA Investment Forum 31 January 2019.

The ESA Investment Forum is an ESA space solutions event organized by ESA Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC) Hessen and Baden-Württemberg in partnership with with High-Tech Gründerfonds Management GmbH and Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR) 

The aim is to foster investments in start-ups operating in the space domain as well as within related application domains, downstream as well as upstream. It provides a platform for networking as well as matchmaking between innovative space start-ups and investors.

ESA BICs - World's largest ecosystem for space-related entrepreneurship

The ESA Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC) Hessen and Baden-Württemberg is part of the ESA space solutions network of 20 ESA BICs throughout Europe.

The centres are operated under ESA’s Technology Transfer and Business Incubation Programme Office (TTPO) with the European network of Technology Transfer Brokers. Together they offer access to all aspects of space-related innovation, technology and intellectual properties and is a gateway to ESA and European space research and developments.

The 20 ESA BICs in 17 European countries – Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and UK – are forming the largest ecosystem in the world for space-related entrepreneurship. The 21th centre is soon to open in Northern Germany and more centres are already under preparation.

Over 700 start-ups have been fostered and another near 180 new start-ups are taken in yearly at the ESA BICs to be supported under the two-years business development boosting programme.