Unmanned Freight Operations

The DLR institutes of Flight Guidance, Flight Systems, Communications and Navigation and Aerospace Medicine, along with DLR Air Transportation Systems, present the UFO (Unmanned Freight Operations) project in this video. Under the direction of the Institute of Flight Guidance, the project accepted one of the key challenges for the operation of unmanned freight aircraft: to integrate these into existing, conventional air traffc. They therefore developed specifc solutions for the airspace managed by air traffc control. This resulted in three different scenarios for which researchers then developed and validated new support systems, processes and technologies for air traffc controllers and pilots.

These three scenarios include freight transport between two manufacturing sites, long-haul freight transport, and the transport of aid supplies. These three examples primarily differ in terms of the size of aircraft used and the distances covered. In addition to the technical challenges of communications, navigation and surveillance, along with the monitoring of the condition of the unmanned aircraft, the investigation also considered human-machine interaction. The researchers developed ideas to assist pilots and air traffc controllers.

The project has demonstrated that unmanned long-haul freight transport is generally possible in technical and organisational terms. Until the actual implementation of unmanned freight flights, however, many open questions remain, such as determining responsibilities for activities that pilots have thus far performed on site, or clarifying the security of the communications data link. But their use would then be feasible in the foreseeable future.

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Annette Temme · E-Mail: annette.temme@dlr.de · DLR.de/en