U-Space Real Laboratory starts tests of drones over Port of Hamburg

Pilot project investigating use of drones in existing air traffic
16 September 2021
Tests of drones in Port of Hamburg

The  30-square-kilometre "U-Space Reallabor" over the Port of Hamburg opened Tuesday (September 4, 2021) with a first test of a drone flight. Germany's first test field for a drone airspace is being built above the port. More test flights are to follow over Steinwerder and parts of Grasbrook. The project, initiated by the German Ministry of Transport, has received around EUR 500,000 in funds to expand the use of drones. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones will in future be used to monitor construction sites, transport medical goods, for firefighting operations and to improve traffic among others. 

Integrating UAVs into air traffic

Speaking during the opening ceremony, Michael Westhagemann, Senator for Economics, remarked: "The U-Space Reallabor is a milestone on the way to the regular use of drones in the public interest." The partners to the project include the Ministry for Economics, the Hamburg Port Authority, HHLA Sky, Hamburg Aviation and the UDVeo project consortium. The project is being implemented by Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) and its subsidiary Droniq. "To fully exploit the economic potential of UAVs, they must be easily and safely integrated into existing air traffic," said Jan-Eric Putze, CEO of Droniq while Arndt Schoenemann, Chairman of the DFS Board of Managing Directors, remarked: "We are showing here how modern and digital an airspace can be designed for drones."


Tests of various scenarios

The tests focus on communication between drones and other air traffic users as well as organising the airspace e.g., in an emergency situation in which a drone pilot has to avoid a helicopter entering the test field at short notice. "We combine our experience in manned aviation with innovative technological solutions to integrate UAVs safely into the air traffic system," said Schoenemann. The drone pilots are always given a complete aerial view to identify other air traffic users in good time and to act accordingly.


U-Space Reallabor
© FabianMeyer/pixelliebe, Olga Tsyvinska/Shutterstock.com, Map Tiler, OpenStreetMap contributors
Planning status of the U-Space Reallaboratory

Hamburg relying on drone technology

The U-Space Reallab is part of the German government's action plan to put Germany at the forefront of unmanned aviation. On completion of the test flights in Hamburg, the results will serve as a blueprint for establishing regular drone airspaces in Germany. Hamburg became an official model region for developing the civilian use of UAVs and other urban aviation technologies in 2018. Urban air transport is set to top the agenda of the ITS World Congress, which Hamburg is hosting from October 11-15, 2021 with the German Ministry of Transport. The world's largest congress acts as a catalyst of the ITS strategy adopted by the senate. Practical demonstrations of a U-Space will be undertaken during so-called flight weeks.