Recently there have been news that warned of the use of drones by the Directorate General of Traffic to monitor infractions and put fines. At first glance, it may seem to us that the police have hit the spot with a simple application of drones to monitor and punish bad drivers, thus contributing to collective road safety. But this fact is only the tip of the iceberg of a multitude of connections that will be established between air vehicles (drones) and land vehicles over the next decade, and most of them will be positive for the intelligent management of mobility, in the that a new generation of vehicles and infrastructure adapted to them will be the protagonists.
Fixed-wing drones as a complement to manned aerial means
At a time when Information Technology and Communications are changing globally all aspects of society, one of the sectors where this evolution has had a greater impact has been the sector of terrestrial observation systems based on drones These appear as a new tool that complements previously existing platforms, satellites and manned aerial means (helicopters, light aircraft), given the large number of advantages they present in terms of investment and operation costs, spatial resolution, of agility and temporal resolution, etc. Within this chapter, fixed-wing drones have higher productivity (due to their greater autonomy) than multicopter drones, which makes them more suitable for the study of linear infrastructures, such as the road network.
Cooperative Intelligent Transport System (C-ITS)
The horizon that is glimpsed for the next decade, orbits the need to provide a systematic support infrastructure to the current intelligent mobility systems (ITS) and the future cooperative ITS (C-ITS) that are being developed for the 2020- 2030, as described in different strategic plans of different managing entities with responsibility in this matter (European Commission, Directorate General of Traffic, Servei Català de Transit). This concept is scalable to the management of other linear infrastructures such as railways, but in terms of road traffic it applies to both the current mobility paradigm (ITS) and the cooperative mobility paradigm (C-ITS) to which the automotive industry He is heading for the next decade.
New paradigm of mobility as a service (Mobility as a Service (MAAS)).
We are currently at the beginning of a transition towards a new mobility paradigm in which a new generation of vehicles (autonomous, electric, connected and shared) will be gaining market share, so it is essential to provide tools to the managers of the infrastructure and transport for optimal administration. In the short term (2020-2022) there will be a period of coexistence between current vehicles as we know them and fully autonomous vehicles, but in this evolution they will be increasingly connected between them, with users and also with the fixed elements of the infrastructure
The new role of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).
For their joint monitoring, technologically we will rely on the use of fixed-wing unmanned aerial platforms on which optical sensors and telecommunications instruments will be shipped as routers (routers), requiring much smaller economic resources than are currently required. with manned aerial vehicles (ie helicopters), which will increase the number of platforms that are operating simultaneously and with an infinitely smaller environmental footprint. These intrinsic characteristics of drone technology involve addressing globally scalable business objectives. The technological challenge is to develop a unique solution that is flexible enough to control infrastructure and mobility systems remotely and in real time.
Computer Vision (CV), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Deep Learning
The innovation not only lies in the design of a type of drone capable of offering high productivity beyond the pilot’s line of sight (BVLOS) and housing the necessary payload, but that the true added value is found in the integration of the data produced in the drone with the technologies of Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence, based on Deep Learning and Big Data. In the transmission of images the 5G telephone network will play a fundamental role, since it will allow the flow of a large amount of data at a very low latency; This will allow the drone to make autonomous decisions adapted to the new mobility paradigm as a service (Figure 1).
Figure 1: General outline of the role of drones in mobility management in the next decade.
Source: Own elaboration with icons of https://www.flaticon.com
The role of the 5G network in the UAS
If we visualize a system of drones that act as captors of territorial information (data, images, videos), it is necessary that this large amount of information be transmitted from the drone to the control station or to the traffic control center. Thus, taking advantage of the telephone network (in the short-medium term, 5G), a stable communication link can be ensured beyond the line of sight between the drone and the pilot, in addition to providing real-time data and so both opening the door to their processing while the drone is in the air. With this data and the appropriate methods, you will contribute to the intelligent management of infrastructure and mobility.
The new mobility paradigm consisting of connected, autonomous, electric vehicles and mobility as a service (MaaS) involve the coordinated management of critical infrastructure and people, within the framework of the new generation of connected devices (Internet of things (IoT)) , as well as the cybersecurity associated with them. In relation to cybersecurity, one of the relevant and especially necessary aspects will be to ensure that the IoT devices of the infrastructure, which support this new mobility paradigm, will not be compromised or manipulated, both maliciously and unintentionally (accidentally) .
Drones in air regulation
The use of drones is currently regulated at the national level and there are recommendations at the international level, although the European Union is working in a common framework. Spanish legislation reflects the need for the operator’s figure in order to carry out drone operations and European legislation provides that in operations beyond the pilot’s line of sight, the maximum drone takeoff weight must be less than 4 kg. The flight in certain circumstances (flying over urban areas, crowds of people, near airports, …) requires the operator to have specific permission for such operations, except in the case of state security forces and bodies in cases of emergencies.
The next regulation
Additionally, and based on the regulations that are being developed within the European Union referred to above, the drones must comply with the U-space regulation (Automatic Dependent Surveillance System (ADS-B), ability to detect and avoid elements ( Sense & Avoid), front view camera (FPV)). It should be noted that Royal Decree 1036/2017, which currently regulates the use of drones in Spain, does not facilitate this comprehensive solution in metropolitan areas, while in large part of the interurban roads that do not intersect with the airspace controlled by airports itself that it is possible to advance in its implementation.
Temporarily segregated airspaces (TSA)
In any case, we remind you that to make proof of concept you can always go to a specialized center that has a temporarily segregated airspace, such as the Barcelona Drone Center (TSA Moià), where you can carry out all types of programs programmed with the more absolute coverage of current regulations.
In conclusion, the drones have a privileged zenith point of view that currently serves to see much more than infractions, also to inspect the condition of the pavement communication roads and their surroundings, monitor traffic or provide support in case of emergencies. But soon, with the implementation of the 5G network, the drone will be able to communicate with the IoT devices of the road infrastructure, with the autonomous vehicles, and intervene to help make intelligent decisions in the mobility system as a whole.