Taxi-drones are no longer a thing of the future. Nor that a remote-controlled aircraft makes the deliveries of online purchases, or that becomes the eyes of the Police from above.
The drone industry is booming, immersed in an intense research and development process and Zaragoza, Spain is going to become the first test laboratory for these aircraft in urban areas of Europe.
The parking lot of La Almozara has been the place chosen to house the so-called Hera Drone Hub, where different companies will be able to act in the air, land and water space with this technology.
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In the place, test flights, experiments, consultancies and training of these unmanned robots will be carried out in a real environment and within the CTR airspace. One more step towards future air and urban mobility.
Isabel Boatas, Hera Drone Hub director, explained that this is “a dream that began more than a year ago.” After seven years at Expodrónica fair, she is a connoisseur of the reality of this sector, which she considered that it is now in the best moment for its take-off, with “solid companies” and “support” both from national administrations and from Europe.
“Zaragoza has had the vision of turning the city into the mobility center of the future,” she pointed out.
In her opinion, this city is the one that meets the best conditions in Spain for an installation of this type. In addition to the “facilities” offered by the authorities, who “believe in this project,” she pointed out, Zaragoza is a “strategic enclave” that has a southern NATO base and the largest logistics park in Europe, in addition to having the Ebro, a backbone river that runs through seven autonomous communities. All this favors that they can carry out aerial, terrestrial and aquatic training with the aircraft.
For the creation of this innovation node, the council gave 17 hectares of land to take off and land drones of up to 500 kilos, except on Wednesdays and Sundays.
An advantage that will allow Zaragoza to become center of attraction for R&D companies that will carry out their tests flying over the capital.
A bench test that will allow studies to be carried out to homologate aircraft, equipment and systems and, above all, to define the possible uses they present through real tests, such as the distribution of Sustainable Urban Distribution (DUM), which will also be tested in the city, or that of pharmaceutical products with aerial robots.
“The project will change the face of our city,” said the mayor, Jorge Azcón in the presentation of the center, who highlighted that with this laboratory an “underused space” will be used to invest in technology and new mobility, in the one that the Aragonese capital wants to be a European reference.
“Here they will be able to homologate the system and equipment, make a test and training field for new pilots,” added Azcón, who expressed his satisfaction with the public-private collaboration that this project implies, in which the Ministry of the Interior collaborates , the Air Force and several private companies.
In addition, the various experiments carried out will make it possible to regulate this sector and to legislate its multiple uses in cities.
The city council began to explore the world of drones as early as 2019, when it applied to enter the European Flying Forward 2020 project (FF2020) for the development of urban air mobility technology financed by European H2020 funds.
It also created a Drones Unit in the Zaragoza Fire Department, with workers who have specialized and who already use the aircraft in certain situations to know the terrain before acting and minimize risks.
Written by I Jhonattan González