This video explains in less than two minutes what the Certiflight test flights were about
November 24, 2023
Certiflight has taken an important step in the development of the technology with which it intends not only to increase air safety, but also to certify flight data and possible incidents, by means of reliable and non-manipulable data and images.
To demonstrate the feasibility and functionality of the project, Certiflight has carried out its first public demonstration flights at the Drones Beyond trade show in Bari on October 25 and 26. The tests were followed live by the experts attending the congress as well as spectators on the street.
The tests comprised the inspection of a canal and the assessment of a simulated road accident. This video explains in less than two minutes the test flights performed.
First flight test: Canal inspection
The first test carried out was an inspection mission of a canal. The aim was to simulate the identification of debris that could harm the environment.
During the test that involved 20 minutes of flight, the drone flew at a height of 45 meters, following a constrained flight path in a very narrow corridor. The mission was fully automatic, involving the transfer of command between two pilots in order to cope with contingencies. The operation was conducted in a very challenging environment, considering especially the electromagnetic spectrum of interference, explained the project coordinator Alberto Mennella.
Certiflight's technology works through the UTM box, a small device that is placed on board the drone and does not interfere in any way with the command and control.
The technology is based on a payload that goes on the drone and has been developed by Certiflight, a project co-funded by EUSPA, the EU Agency for the Space Programme. The first prototypes of the UTM box and the software platform were tested in these tests.
This payload exploits the new navigation authentication message of Galileo. Our idea in this project is to exploit this new authentication signal with the combination of other technologies as blockchain for providing a new service that has been also theorized and standardized by in the UTM and U-space.
Certiflight Project Coordinator
Mennella expects this new service of Galileo, with the addition of the new technology provided by Certiflight, can play an important role in the near future. Certiflight brings interesting additional features because provides authenticated positions that can be trusted and adding a security layer against spoofing.
The data collected by the payload, such as photographs, video or any kind of information about the flight, can be used as the basis of potential legal evidence for a new category of services. For example, in this test, we could prove that the drone was maintained well clear of the nearby CTR of the Bari airport.
Second test flight: Accident investigation
For the second test flight a car accident was simulated, a situation in which it is important to freeze the scene, obtaining photographs taken at a specific time, which will be used later for forensic analysis such as measurement of the distance and other data that can be used by the local authorities for the investigation.
In this scenario, the key aspect is to be able to demonstrate before a Court of Justice that the evidence was gathered in a particular place, date and time. For that purpose the drone needs to have the UTM box on board, with its embedded OSNMA receiver, and has to be connected to the Certiflight platform, to guarantee that data is genuine at the very origin.
The added value offered by Certiflight in this scenario is that the data collected by the drone at the crash site is processed in this certified service platform. The processed data is stored in a blockchain node. Therefore, the data is unalterable in the future. The key aspect is that the security chain of data is preserved and nothing is corrupted. This is Certiflight’s key value proposition since the implementation for this kind of services provide legal evidence of facts that is not possible otherwise.
Once the drone takes the necessary images and data. The platform created a 3D model stored in a digitally signed PDF. The report generated includes all the points of interest and their relative measurements, enabling the authorities to use the report as a remarkable legal evidence for further analysis.
From the final user perspective, the authorities in charge of the accident investigation, the data acquired using a drone is of a much higher quality than what is possible with a ruler on the ground for measuring a scene of the accident, is non-tamperable and has much better probative value.
The tests were a success and the partners of Certiflight have got excellent feedback from the attendees to the Drones Beyond event. "We tested if the mechanism of the insertion of drones in a procedural way inside air traffic was feasible. There are still some gaps to overcome, but I think that this is a very good experience for everybody," concluded Menella.
One of the key challenges to be faced is the weakness of the signal transmission, especially in cities, because there is a lot of interference, but Certiflight expects this gap to be solved eventually in the remaining of the project.