The SONORA project (Support to Standardisation Actions for EGNOS and Galileo in the U-Space), an EU-funded initiative for the integration of EGNSS (European Global Navigation Satellite System) services into U-Space regulations, has announced the successful completion of its second round of flight tests, which took place in Benidorm, Alicante, from 20 to 22 November 2023, the organizers report in a statement.

This EC drone flight project in urban environments, developed by a consortium led by Ernst & Young, and including GMV, CATEC, MCI and RP Legal & Tax, involved two series of flight tests to evaluate several GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems), one in an open environment and the other in an urban environment.

During three days the results of a study similar to the first trial (carried out a year ago at CATEC’s ATLAS center in Jaen) were analyzed, but this time in an urban scenario – the city of Benidorm -, more challenging in terms of navigation, including the use of GNSS receivers hybridized with other technologies, such as inertial measurement (IMU), used to measure the angular velocity and acceleration of an object, allowing an in-depth motion analysis.

Hybrid GNSS solutions are navigation systems that combine GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) technology with other sensors, such as cameras, LIDAR laser detection and localization technology to measure precise distances and movements in real time, IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) and odometers. These systems are used to improve the accuracy and reliability of navigation in urban and indoor environments, where the GNSS signal can be weak or interrupted. Hybrid GNSS solutions are used in a wide variety of applications, such as autonomous vehicle navigation, mobile mapping, precision agriculture and robotics.

Therefore, the consortium responsible for the execution of the project has meticulously planned these comprehensive flight plans to evaluate the accuracy, availability, continuity and integrity of GNSS receivers integrated with IMU or other complementary technologies.

The first tests in an open environment, conducted in November 2022 at CATEC’s ATLAS center in Jaén, focused on collecting and analyzing GNSS data to support standards development, evaluate new EGNSS services – Galileo High Accuracy Service (HAS) and OSNMA (Open Service – Navigation Message Authentication) – and conduct real missions with unmanned aerial systems (UAS), including highway surveillance and intrusion detection.

Based on a more detailed analysis of the test results, the project will provide feedback to UAS regulatory agencies with the aim of streamlining authorization processes for this type of specific medium risk category operations (SAIL III-IV).
With this participation, CATEC contributes in shaping the future of unmanned aviation.

[Download here the complete Press Release with the results of the 2nd test].