Lift-off for the Center for Vertical Mobility
In the Rhenish mining area, RWTH Aachen University and its partners are launching a competence and test center for networked and automated vertical mobility that is unique in Germany.
How can unmanned micro air vehicles safely transport urgent medical supplies and support rescue teams in the search for missing persons? How will vertically launched air cabs bring medical personnel to patients? These and other questions relating to networked and automated vertical mobility will be addressed by the new Center for Vertical Mobility (CVM) in Aldenhoven. In the Rhenish mining area, the Institute of Flight System Dynamics at RWTH Aachen University is collaborating with other university institutes and partners from industry to create an interdisciplinary competence and test center that is unique in Germany.
At a symbolic lift-off on the site of the Aldenhoven Testing Center (ATC), Ina Brandes, Minister of Transport of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Professor Andreas Pinkwart, Minister of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, together with the Rector of RWTH Aachen University, Professor Ulrich Rüdiger, have now launched the first unmanned flight. All those involved emphasized that the project is an important part of the structural change in the region.
Mobility is a Key Component
"Mobility is a key component through which the future development of population and economic structures in rural areas will be sustainably influenced and shaped. Vertical mobility has the potential to get to any location and provide transportation or traffic services without the need for special infrastructure on the ground, at any time and in any weather," explains Professor Dieter Moormann, Head of the Institute of Flight System Dynamics. Launch and monitoring of the premiere flight as well as the transmission of image data was carried out via Vodafone's 5G network, which is being expanded as "5G.air" for highly dynamic aviation applications at CVM.
The work focuses on research, development and operation of vertically launchable unmanned aerial vehicles, for example for transporting urgent goods, for data acquisition/digital production and for supporting rescue teams. It also involves testing safe automated operation of vertical takeoff air cabs. All air systems take off and land vertically. A runway is not required for this, but instead what is called a U-space is needed as airspace in which safe simultaneous operation of these air traffic participants is possible, even with today's manned aviation. The CVM thus sees itself as a complement to the research activities at the Aeropark Aachen-Merzbrück and at the Innovation Airport in Mönchengladbach.
The agenda also includes research into and optimization of airborne wind turbines, which generate energy efficiently and sustainably using high-altitude winds far above the blade tips of today's wind turbines.
"Center for Vertical Mobility" Strengthens the Role of North Rhine-Westphalia
Transport Minister Ina Brandes said: "North Rhine-Westphalia is home to Mobility 4.0 with self-driving buses in regular service, automated inland waterway vessels, a statewide e-tariff for buses and trains, or quiet and emission-free e-airplanes taking off in Aachen-Merzbrück. Now, in this excellent research region around RWTH and the Rhenish mining area, there is Germany's first test center for transport drones and autonomously operated air cabs that can take off and land vertically quickly and in very confined spaces. The new 'Center for Vertical Mobility' strengthens North Rhine-Westphalia's role as a pioneer in the development of air transport of the future. I'm particularly pleased that research is also being conducted into aircraft for emergencies to save human lives."
The Minister of Economics and Innovation, Professor Andreas Pinkwart, said: "The aviation of tomorrow will not only be more climate-friendly and quieter, but will also provide important impetus for many other applications across all sectors. In North Rhine-Westphalia, we are ideally positioned to play a pioneering role here: We combine excellent research with innovative companies from the aerospace sector and many key technologies required for this. I am convinced that the competence and test center will create a location that develops and tests new technologies and helps them take off. Airborne wind turbines are a great example of this: the more efficient use of high-altitude winds holds great potential for the expansion of renewable energies."
The Institute of Flight System Dynamics is already involved in research projects on innovative air mobility with other institutes at the University. These are funded by the federal government or the European Union. These include the projects "EULE" for European transport solutions for medical goods, "Grenzflug+" for the cross-border search for injured persons, "SAFIR-med", also for medical care, and "FlutNetz", a project for emergency care of snakebite victims from flooded areas in Bangladesh. At CVM, this research is being merged with other projects.
"RWTH stands for an active approach to the unknown. This 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 structural change in the Rhenish mining area . I'm confident that research in this field will be successful and give us answers to some of the pressing questions of our time," explains RWTH Rector Professor Ulrich Rüdiger.
Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dieter Moormann
Institute of Flight System Dynamics at RWTH Aachen University
Telephone: +49 241 80 96810
Dr.-Ing. Tobias Ostermann
Institute of Flight System Dynamics at RWTH Aachen University
Telephone: +49 241 80 96517
RWTH Professor Dieter Moormann and Tobias Ostermann from the Institute of Flight System Dynamics demonstrate the potential of automated aircraft to Economics and Innovation Minister Professor Andreas Pinkwart, RWTH Rector Professor Ulrich Rüdiger, Transport Minister Ina Brandes (from left) and other guests at the lift-off of the Center for Vertical Mobility.