In the Rhenish Revier, the RWTH University of Aachen and its partners are launching a nationwide unique competence and test center for networked and automated vertical mobility.
How can unmanned microplanes safely transport urgent medical supplies and support rescuers in the search for missing people? How will air taxis that take off vertically bring medical personnel to patients? The new Center for Vertical Mobility (CVM) in Aldenhoven will answer these and other questions about networked and automated vertical mobility. In cooperation with the Institute for Flight System Dynamics at RWTH Aachen University, other academic institutes and industry partners, a unique interdisciplinary competence and test center in Germany is being created in the Rhine region.
During a symbolic take-off from the premises of the Aldenhoven Test Center (ATC), Ina Brandes, Minister of Transport of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Professor Andreas Pinkwart, Minister of Economics, of Innovation, Digitization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, together with the rector of the RWTH, Professor Ulrich Rüdiger, launched the first unmanned flight. Everyone involved underlined that the project is an important part of structural change in the region.
Mobility is key
“Mobility is a key element that will have a lasting effect on and shape the future development of population and economic structures in rural areas. Vertical mobility has the potential to get to any location without requiring special ground infrastructure and to offer transportation or traffic services anytime and in any weather,” says Professor Dieter Moormann, director of the Institute of Flight System Dynamics. First flight start-up and monitoring as well as image data transmission was provided via Vodafone’s 5G network, which is being expanded as “5G.air” for highly dynamic aeronautical applications at CVM.
The work focuses on the research, development and operation of unmanned aircraft capable of vertical take-off, for example for the transport of urgent goods, for data acquisition/digital production and for the support of the emergency services. It also involves testing the safe and automated operation of air taxis capable of vertical takeoff. All flight systems take off and land vertically. A runway is not necessary for this, but a so-called U-Space as airspace in which safe simultaneous operation of these air traffic participants is also possible with the manned aviation which is common today today. The CVM sees itself as a complement to the research activities of Aeropark Aachen-Merzbrück and Mönchengladbach Innovation Airport.
Also on the agenda is the research and optimization of so-called airborne wind power plants, which produce energy efficiently and sustainably using high-altitude winds well above the blade tips of current wind turbines.
The “Center for Vertical Mobility” strengthens the role of North Rhine-Westphalia
Ina Brandes, Minister of Transport: “North Rhine-Westphalia is the birthplace of Mobility 4.0 with autonomous buses in regular services, automated waterways, state-wide electronic tariffs for buses and silent and emission-free electric trains or planes that take off in Aachen-Merzbrück.In this excellent research region around the RWTH and the Rheinisches Revier there is now Germany’s first test center for drones transport vehicles and self-driving air taxis, which can take off and land vertically quickly and in the tightest of spaces.The new “Center for Vertical Mobility” reinforces the role of North Rhine-Westphalia as a pioneer in the development of future air traffic. I am particularly pleased that emergency aircraft are also being sought to save lives.
Minister of Economy and Innovation, Professor Andreas Pinkwart: “Tomorrow’s aviation will not only be more climate-friendly and quieter, but will also provide important cross-industry impulses for many other applications. In North Rhine-Westphalia, we are ideally positioned to play a pioneering role here: we combine excellent research with innovative companies from the aviation industry and many key technologies required for this. I am convinced that the competence and testing center will create a place that develops and tests new technologies and helps them get off the ground. Airborne wind power plants are a great example: the more efficient use of winds at high altitudes holds great potential for the expansion of renewable energy. »
The Institute for Flight System Dynamics is already involved with other institutes of the university in research projects on innovative air mobility. These are funded by the federal government or the European Union. These include the “EULE” projects for European transport solutions for medical goods, “Grenzflug+” for cross-border search for injured people, “SAFIR-med”, also for medical care and “FlutNetz”, a emergency care for snakebites. victims of flooded areas in Bangladesh. At the CVM, this research is combined with other projects.
“RWTH is synonymous with an active approach to the unknown. This also includes research into flight systems that do not require a runway because they can take off and land vertically. The overall project of this center is an important contribution to the structural transformation of the Rhine mining area. I am convinced that research in this area will go a long way and provide us with answers to some of the pressing questions of our time,” says Prof. Ulrich Rüdiger, Rector of the RWTH.