Published On: February 2, 2022By

ESA Space Solutions Project FLAMES

Successful Demonstration Campaign of Unisphere and Matternet

Konstanz - 2 February 2022 - FLAMES, supported by the ESA Space Solutions program, has successfully completed its demonstration campaign. The project, jointly conducted by Unisphere (Germany), Matternet (USA) and Nordic Unmanned (Norway), addressed two initiatives. Firstly, the ability of simulation technologies to produce accurate drone flight simulations to increase the automation of delivery operations in urban environments, and secondly, optimizing the monitoring of emissions at sea through automated flight planning solutions.

Drone delivery in an urban environment

For the first time, simulation technology is integrated with high-resolution weather forecasts, Copernicus digital altitude data and aircraft performance models to create high-precision drone flight simulations, so-called "digital twins". Since October 2021, project partners Matternet and Unisphere have validated the technology in a demonstration campaign with commercial BVLOS drone flights over the cities of Lugano and Zurich in Switzerland.

As part of the FLAMES project, Unisphere has developed a generic approach to building a flight performance model for drones as part of its automated flight planning software platform. During the demonstration campaign, Matternet used the simulation results and backed them up with real drone operations in Switzerland. The results show that Unisphere's approach significantly improves the accuracy of flight path simulations in terms of flight time and battery state of charge at landing. The integrated power model has improved the simulation accuracy to more than 95 %.

Accurate and reliable simulation technologies are essential for the further automation of drone flight. Accurate "digital twins" underpin a number of key functions such as automatic flight planning, compliance monitoring and autonomous response to in-flight changes - features that are central to building a safe, digitised airspace.

About Unisphere

Unisphere is a specialist in intelligent software solutions for automating the flight operations of drones and air taxis. The software platform is used by leading BVLOS drone operators and supports both piloted and fully automated flight operations based on its unique simulation technology. Our data-driven analytics solutions help Vertiport and air taxi companies design and make decisions for urban air mobility services. Unisphere was founded in 2017 and is based in Konstanz, Germany.

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About Matternet

Matternet has developed world-class technology for on-demand aerial delivery in urban areas. The company offers its technology platform as a service to healthcare and logistics companies. In March 2017, Matternet became the first company in the world to receive approval for commercial BVLOS operations of drone logistics networks over cities in Switzerland. In March 2019, Matternet and UPS announced a partnership to provide drone delivery services to US healthcare systems. In October 2019, Matternet's technology enabled the first FAA-approved drone airline in the US, UPS Flight Forward. In November 2020, Matternet initiated the first permanent BVLOS medical drone network in the European Union with Labor Berlin. In September 2021, Matternet supported the first Covid 19 vaccine drone delivery in the United States and announced the world's first city-wide drone network in Abu Dhabi with the emirate's Ministry of Health. To date, Matternet technology has enabled more than 15,000 commercial drone flights. For more information, please visit:

About ESA Space Solutions

ESA Space Solutions is the go-to place for great business ideas involving space in all areas of society and the economy. It supports entrepreneurs in Europe in the development of business using satellite applications and space technology.

The program is designed to provide multiple entry points such as ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), ESA Technology Transfer Broker Network, ESA Business Application Ambassadors, and the ESA Business Applications program. It also supports innovative ideas to transfer space technology into non-space markets or vice versa.

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