First BUBBLES Workshop “Separation Management in the U-space: a key enabler to boost U3 services take- off”.

03  Mar 2021 – PRESS RELEASE


The BUBBLES consortium held its second plenary meeting on February 24th 2021. During this meeting, the consortium presented to the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) and the project Advisory Board (AB) the results achieved in the work packages already finished by that date and the approach and ongoing tasks in the work packages which are being currently executed. Both the SJU and the AB members expressed positive opinions about the project and made some interesting suggestions the consortium will incorporate in the workplan. Moreover, the consortium also organised workshop on the topic “Separation Management in the U-space: a key enabler to boost U3 services take- off”, which took place the day after the plenary meeting as an online event due to the restrictions to the mobility in force in many European countries to face the COVID19. Despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, almost 70 participants attended the workshop. The majority of the attendees came from the academia, Civil Aviation Authorities and standardisation bodies, although all the target audiences identified by the project were represented.

The event was divided into two parts: a first session focused on BUBBLES project outcomes, the regulatory framework for the U-space and the standardisation activities ongoing across the world and a second part consisting of an open discussion.

The first session began with a contextualization of the BUBBLES project within SESAR U-space Research Programme by Robin Garrity, ATM expert from SJU. Afterwards, Andrew Hately (Eurocontrol) explained why the BUBBLES project fits into the CORUS framework and Juan Vicente Balbastre, BUBBLES Project Manager, presented an overview of the project, highlighting the concept and the methodology the consortium will use to formulate and validate it. Then, Cristian Martín and Norberto Vera from Indra and UPV, respectively, described the generic UAS ConOps defined by BUBBLES over the past few months, with a particular emphasis on scenario assessment using the “extended” SORA methodology (i.e. using not only a qualitative approach, but also a quantitative one) proposed by BUBBLES. Next, Juan Vila (UPV) presented the risk-based, operation-centric collision model for calculating separation developed by the project team, whereas Luca Iocchi, from La Sapienza University, described how AI is being used to calculate the separation minima and methods once the algorithms are trained with a large set of representative trajectories. After that, Cecilia Claramunt and Norberto Vera, both from UPV, presented the first steps that are carrying out by the team to define the OSEDs, while David Marrero (Eurocontrol) explained the process to obtain safety and performance requirements applying Medusa Methodology. It is expected that by the end of July draft of safety, performance and interoperability requirements will be obtained. Finally, Maria Algar-Ruiz and Ken Engelstad from EASA, exposed the keys of the U-space regulatory package which was endorsed by EASA Committee the day before the workshop and Filippo Tomasello (EUROUSC Italia) made a comprehensive revision of the industry standards that are being developed and how they can support the U-space regulation.

The open discussion session began after the technical presentations. This session lasted one hour and a half, during which 40 participants exchanged ideas about conflict management in the U-space. The main part of the discussion focused on whether the separation bubbles (i.e. separation minima) are necessary or not, whether their size and shape should be fixed or adapted to the UAS features (size, dynamic behaviour, etc.) and missions, as well as who should be in charge of preventing those bubbles touch each other. There was a general agreement on the need of some kind of separation minima when the conflict management is entrusted to an electronic system, regardless of it is ground based or on board. The participants also agreed on the need of several safety bubbles around the aircraft to take into account the overall conflict management timeline (from the detection of a conflict to the activation of the CA system). Finally, the participants also concurred with the idea that the size and shape of the separation bubbles should somehow be tailored to the actual mission and performance of the UAV. A second question that rose during the session was whether the separation provision should be tackled in a centralised or in a distributed way. The attendees discussed the pros and cons of each option and concluded that both approaches should be considered. Projects such as BUBBLES and Metropolis-2 will deal with this topic and will provide the U-space community with information supporting the implementation of (very likely hybrid) solutions. The last part of the open discussion session focused on the impact of regulation on the separation provision. Even though the regulation approved by the EASA and presented by Maria Algar-Ruiz and Ken Engelstad during the meeting seems to be quite restrictive, the participants considered that having a regulation on the U-space is in itself good news. The role of the research projects such BUBBLES is to provide information to the rule-makers so that they can have arguments to unleash concepts that currently are not mature enough to be included in a regulatory framework.

Click here to download the slides used during the BUBBLES workshop.