The Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) is promoting the development of innovative technologies for unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
The UAS sector has been growing during the last few years, and it is expected to grow further and further shortly. In Spain, CDTI is supporting and helping the companies of this sector despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19, the need to reduce emissions of polluting gases, and the demand for drones with greater autonomy and capacity for a variety of activities.
Since 2010 the CDTI has funded almost 300 UAS projects with a total budget of more than 204 million euros, of which the CDTI has contributed with more than 128 million euros.
The first call of the Aeronautical Technology Programme (PTA), designed and managed by the CDTI and whose purpose is to promote strategic projects in aeronautical technologies that contribute to meeting technological challenges in this field, ended on 7 June 2021. With a maximum budget of 40,000,000 euros in subsidies, it will be financed by the General State Budget. Of this budget, 7,500,000 euros will be allocated to the SMEs (small and medium enterprises) category.
The projects that could be funded have to be related to UAVs/UAS, efficiency and zero emissions, and new multi-role aircraft and systems.
Alter Technology, with 35 years of history and as a benchmark in its sector, with the CDTI help, has participated in important drone projects such as DREAM and AIRWATCH.
The first one, DREAM (drones to increase efficiency, safety, and environmental protection in infrastructure maintenance), consists of developing an inspection and maintenance system based on drone technology to cover the main needs in the civil engineering sector, electrical and petrochemical infrastructures with a high level of automation.
In the second one, AIRWATCH (maritime search and rescue system) Alter Technology developed enabling technologies that allowed UAS to operate safely from vessels dedicated to maritime search and rescue activities.
According to Julián Gallego, director of the Alter Technology UAVs division, the UAS sector is becoming a technological reference to provide solutions to several sectors.
In the coming years, the technologies that will be developed are mainly related to airworthiness, operational sceneries, communications, navigation systems, autonomous navigation, etc. These developments will have to face challenges related to regulation and safety. Moreover, Spain will have to face the lack of industrialization of the sector.