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Measurement and Replication of Drone-Scale Atmospheric Turbulence in a Simulator of Autonomous Flight Environments (SAFE) for Drone Certification

English title Measurement and Replication of Drone-Scale Atmospheric Turbulence in a Simulator of Autonomous Flight Environments (SAFE) for Drone Certification
Applicant Noca Flavio
Number 187149
Funding scheme Bridge - Discovery
Research institution Centre d'hydrodynamique et d'aérodynamique HEPIA - HES-SO Genève
Institution of higher education University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland - HES-SO
Main discipline Fluid Dynamics
Start/End 01.01.2020 - 31.12.2022
Approved amount 876'119.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Fluid Dynamics
Meteorology

Keywords (6)

wind; turbulence; certification; WindShape; drone; weather

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Nous proposons de mesurer des écoulements météorologiques en milieu urbain (EPFL) et d'utiliser des outils de Machine Learning (ETHZ) afin d'entraîner un instrument d'invention Suisse, une soufflerie pixelisée (WindShaper), à reproduire fidèlement ces conditions. L'objectif est de développer des environnements d'essais et de certification pour les drones du monde entier (HES-SO).
Lay summary

Les drones rempliront bientôt notre écosystème aérien dans les domaines de l'imagerie/cartographie, de la livraison de colis et du transport de passagers. Les drones devront fonctionner dans des conditions atmosphériques arbitraires, en particulier dans des conditions météorologiques défavorables lors de situations d'urgence. Dans les villes, ils devront surmonter les turbulences urbaines ainsi que les turbulences des véhicules routiers.

Nous avons soumis une proposition à l'Office Fédéral de l'Aviation Civile (OFAC) de développer des protocoles de certification de drones dans un environnement contrôlé, en utilisant un Simulator of Autonomous Flight Environments (SAFE) basé sur une soufflerie pixelisée (WindShaper), inventée en Suisse et commercialisée par une entreprise genevoise, WindShape. SAFE soumettra les drones à des vents d'intensité et de direction variables qui reflètent des situations réelles.

Pour atteindre ces objectifs, SAFE doit reproduire les conditions environnementales réelles. Dans ce contexte, deux objectifs clés seront poursuivis dans le contexte de ce projet:

1. fournir à cette installation des données réelles de turbulence atmosphérique à l'échelle des drones,

2. développer une méthodologie basée sur du Machine Learning pour reproduire ces flux dans notre soufflerie pixelisée.

SAFE sera la première installation au monde à garantir la navigabilité des drones en fonction de leur capacité à rester en altitude dans des conditions de vent et de météo données. L'infrastructure (matériel), les flux (logiciels), ainsi que la procédure de test et de certification (processus) pourront ensuite être commercialisés dans le monde entier, soit en tant que service, soit en tant que franchise.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 14.05.2020

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Combining computational fluid dynamics and neural networks to characterize microclimate extremes: Learning the complex interactions between meso-climate and urban morphology
Javanroodi Kavan, Nik Vahid M., Giometto Marco, Scartezzini Jean-Louis (2022), Combining computational fluid dynamics and neural networks to characterize microclimate extremes: Learning the complex interactions between meso-climate and urban morphology, in Science of The Total Environment, In-Press(In-Press), 154223-154223.
Flow Profiling in a WindShaper for Testing Free-Flying Drones in Adverse Winds
Noca Flavio, Bujard Thierry, Visvaratnam Geshanth, Catry Guillaume, Bosson Nicolas (2021), Flow Profiling in a WindShaper for Testing Free-Flying Drones in Adverse Winds, in AIAA AVIATION 2021 FORUM, VIRTUAL EVENTAIAA, Reston, Virginia, US.
Quantifying the impacts of urban morphology on modifying microclimate conditions in extreme weather conditions
JavanroodiKavan, M NikVahid (2021), Quantifying the impacts of urban morphology on modifying microclimate conditions in extreme weather conditions, in CISBAT 2021 Carbon-neutral cities - energy efficiency and renewables in the digital era, LausanneJournal of Physics: Conference Series, Lausanne.

Datasets

FNS Bridge SAFE 2020-2021

Author Noca, Flavio
Persistent Identifier (PID) 10.26037/yareta:d5aslhhavvg2tgxzx6x2r6dkxy
Repository CHACHACHA
Abstract
1. Master theses- David Sollander (EPFL/HES-SO)- Daniil Morzhakov (EPFL/Voliro)- Marco Camozzi (HES-SO)- Geshanth Visvaratnam (HES-SO)- Aurélien Walpen (HES-SO)2. Preliminary output data from HES-SO

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof Marco Giometto, Columbia University, New York United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Dr. Roland Vogt, University of Basel Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Guillaume Catry, WindShape Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Dr. Matthias Steiner, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Andy Thurling, New York State NUAIR Alliance United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
AIAA Scitech 2022 Talk given at a conference Development of a Free-Flight Wind Test Facility Featuring a GNSS Simulator to Achieve Immersive Drone Testing 03.01.2022 San Diego, United States of America Noca Flavio;
American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics Talk given at a conference Flow control over wind turbine blades using sweeping jets in a gust and shear environment from a windshaper, a multifan array wind generator 21.11.2021 Phoenix, Arizona, United States of America Noca Flavio;
AIAA AVIATION 2021 Talk given at a conference Flow Profiling in a WindShaper for Testing Free-Flying Drones in Adverse Winds 02.08.2021 Virtual, United States of America Noca Flavio;
American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics Talk given at a conference Sweeping jets for flow control over propellers and wind turbine blades in a gust and shear environment from a fan array 24.11.2020 Cicago (virtual), United States of America Noca Flavio;
First Swiss drone industry-academia gathering Talk given at a conference Drone Wind & Weather Testing 13.02.2020 Federal Office of Civil Aviation - FOCA, Switzerland Noca Flavio;
NASA Urban Air Mobility - Weather Impact Workshop Individual talk Wind & Weather Testing for UAV/UAM 06.02.2020 Columbus, United States of America Noca Flavio;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Girls Ages 12-15: Testing wind resilience of drones on Mars Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 12.11.2021 Geneva, Switzerland Noca Flavio;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Tyto Robotics to Distribute WindShape Drone Testing Technology in North America Genius New York International 2022
Media relations: print media, online media Why stronger standards and better weather testing is needed for drones Aerospace Testing International International 2022
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Aerodynamic Testing of Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Linkedin International 2021
Other activities Boeing Early Adopter of Pixelated Wind Technology Western Switzerland International 2021
Media relations: print media, online media Dans le laboratoire qui a révolutionné la soufflerie pour drone Le Temps Western Switzerland 2021
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Ingenuity et compagnie.Dans les coulisses du laboratoire suisse qui a révolutionné la soufflerie pou Courrier International International 2021
Media relations: radio, television Les Faiseurs de Vent RTS Couleur 3 Western Switzerland 2021
Media relations: print media, online media Stormy Skies Aerospace Testing International International 2021
Other activities 1 MCHF for Smart Winds to Certify Drones Western Switzerland International 2020
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) À l'ère des souffleries intelligentes HEPIA Western Switzerland 2020
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) FNS et Innosuisse soutiennent les souffleries pour drones HES-SO Western Switzerland 2020
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Une soufflerie pixellisée pour drones Techniques de l'Ingénieur Western Switzerland International 2020

Abstract

Drones will soon fill our aerial ecosystem in the field imaging/cartography, parcel delivery (La Poste, Amazon), and passenger transport (Uber Elevate). Drones will need to operate around the clock in arbitrary atmospheric conditions, especially in adverse weather conditions during emergency situations. In cities, they will be required to overcome urban canyon as well as road vehicle turbulence. At higher altitudes, winds can be unpredictable: drones are much smaller than conventional aircraft and are thus more sensitive to weather conditions.Today, traditional drone testing techniques are of poor quality and do not reflect conditions that may be encountered in real world applications. Test drones are either flown outdoors in not well documented, uncontrolled and unpredictable weather conditions (and quite remote from the observer), or tightly strapped onto a support in a conventional wind tunnel with laminar and uniform wind flows. Such wind flows have been devised for conventional aircraft and they are inadequate representations of atmospheric conditions relevant to drones. In summary, existing tests entail a high risk of reaching false conclusions about drone performance and introduce additional risks on drone design that may lead to catastrophic situations.We have submitted a proposal to the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) to develop drone certification protocols in a controlled environment, using a Simulator of Autonomous Flight Environments (SAFE) based on a multifan wind facility commercialized by a Swiss company, WindShape. The wind facility consists of an array of a large number of fans that may be arranged in various patterns on demand. SAFE will subject drones to winds of variable intensity and direction (as well as various weather conditions such as rain, snow, hail, fog etc.) that reflect real world situations. These tests would then rate drones according to their capacity in maintaining a proper flight attitude and tackling flight perturbations in an urban, countryside, or high altitude environment.In order to achieve these goals, SAFE needs to replicate real environmental conditions. In this context, two key steps need to be undertaken: 1. supply this facility with actual atmospheric turbulence data at drone scales (in particular, those encountered in an urban environment), and 2. develop a methodology to reproduce these flows in a multifan facility. The objective of this Bridge proposal is to achieve these two steps by : - Collecting actual urban turbulence data using a facility (motus.epfl.ch) installed at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne: a meteorological mast, instrumented with sonic anemometers with high sampling frequency, which provides wind intensity and direction in an urban setup; - Training thousands of fans in a WindShape facility to produce given 3D flows in space and time, using Machine Learning algorithms and a vast experimental data set collected within the facility.Ultimately, the facility will be able to generate realistic atmospheric flow fields and in particular, genuine urban wind turbulence. SAFE will be the first ever facility in the world to ensure drones airworthiness according to their capacity in staying aloft in given wind and weather conditions. The infrastructure (hardware), the flowfields (software), as well as the testing and certification procedure (processes) can then be commercialized worldwide, either as a service or as a franchise.
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