Panoptis, a project where the Faculty of ITC is one of the partners, that aims to improve the resiliency of road infrastructures, received a new drone. With the new drone, the project is now in the testing phase at Space53 at Twente Airport.
The new drone manufactured by Vertical Technologies – the DeltaQuad – is a hybrid drone, a combination of a helicopter and a plane drone. “This way you get the best of both worlds; the drone is able to take-off and land vertically like a helicopter and can fly huge distances as a plane”, says Francesco Nex, associate professor. The drone will be used to scan motorways for abnormalities caused by, for example, extreme weather, landslides, earthquakes, and car accidents.
Nex stresses the importance of the new drone: “The drone is the biggest tool in our project. It will fly over motorways to find abnormalities. It is almost as fast as a normal car, has a good overview of the road and can scan the area of interest several times per day, even when inaccessible to cars.” After finding abnormalities in real-time using artificial intelligence algorithms, the drone will stream only the relevant information to the ground with a 4G connection. “It can tell us exactly at what part of the motorway there are problems”, says Nex.
The project is currently in the testing phase. “We are currently testing at Twente Airport where we have a long runway that looks just like a motorway”, explains Nex. All the communication systems are tested to get the whole system working. “We are adapting and testing the camera so it’s more efficient for the future and optimizing the on-board algorithms to run them in real-time and reliably”, says Nex. After the tests at Twente Airport the drone will be tested in Spain and Greece.
The drone is part of a bigger project called Panoptis, a consortium of, among others, Airbus, the National Technical University of Athens, Acciona (Spanish infrastructure company), Egnatia Odos (Greek infrastructure company) and the Faculty of ITC of the University of Twente. The purpose of the project is to improve the resiliency of road infrastructures and ensuring reliable network availability under unfavourable conditions. Associate professor Francesco Nex, professor Norman Kerle and Sofia Tilon are involved in the project. Drone tests are also performed thanks to the support of the GeoScience Lab of the Faculty ITC.