Technology Base in Enschede is the first party in the Netherlands to use an automatic flying drone for the monitoring of the business park. The drone can be used both day and night. Unique is that the drone is not controlled by a pilot on site: instead, an operator watches remotely from the control room.

Special exemption

The deployment of the automatic flying drone is possible by a special exemption from the Environment and Transport Inspection (ILT). This not only makes it possible to let the drone fly out of the sight of the operator (BVLOS), the drone can also be deployed at night. The drone is standby 24/7 in a specially developed box. It can be opened remotely, after which the drone takes off. At the end of a mission, the drone returns to the box to be recharged there.

It is the first time in the Netherlands that an exemption for a drone box has been issued. Marc Sandelowsky, program director of the drone innovation cluster and test center Space53: “Drones will be mainly used in the future to do their work automatically or even autonomously. So far, almost nowhere in Europe has been possible to fly drones out of the direct view of the pilot. Experimenting and testing with this was also virtually impossible. Thanks to the permission that Space53, Mapture and Twente Safety Campus have to fly BVLOS day and night, we can accelerate the development of these automatic and autonomous drones at Space53.”

Faster response time

The dronebox was developed in collaboration with The automatic drone comes out of the docking station independently and can provide a security organization or the control room with essential information about a potentially suspicious situation at the business park while flying in. The trigger for a reconnaissance flight can be given by a camera or sensor.

The added value of the automatic drone is in the faster response time . The first moments after a suspicious situation or an incident are crucial; correct information is of great importance to all first responders in the first minutes. Combining the technology behind sensors and drones makes it possible to have drones in certain (risk) areas continuously ready and be able to deploy them if the situation so requests.

First step

Initially, the drone will only fly above the site of the Technology Base. At a later stage, the flight area will be expanded further. David Bornerbroek, manager Twente Safety Campus: “After we have been able to test the system properly in this way on closed ground, emergency services such as fire brigade and police can also use automatic drones in the future for faster aerial imaging.”

For Space53, the drone box test is a first step towards a comprehensive test area in which it can be freely tested and experimented with drones that operate out of the pilot’s sight and do their useful work automatically and safely. In addition to the drone in the box, these will soon be other, larger devices that can fly further for long-term inspections of large areas or unmanned transport, for example.

Alignment with airport

The fact that the Technology Base is located right next to Twente airport created an extra challenge. By agreements with Twente Airport about the time and location of the drone use and due to careful coordination by Twente Airport with the aviation inspection, we have succeeded in obtaining the necessary exemptions.