In the long term, the Innovative Air Mobility (IAM) sector is expected to contribute to the improvement of healthcare services in hard-to-reach and sparsely populated areas. This is particularly relevant in the case of the so-called ” emptied Spain”, where the increasing average age of the population poses significant challenges that our society should address.
The VITAS Project (Sustainable Intelligent Aerial Transport Vehicle for Medical Supplies) is a project within the Innovative Air Mobility sector that seeks to address these challenges through research in innovative technologies enabling future healthcare logistics solutions in the “emptied Spain” using UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) operated from automated vertiports and 5G IoT satellite communications.
The VITAS project’s research will focus on the following areas:
- Vertiports: Design and development of a Software as a Service (SaaS) for automating operations in vertiports, including research in automatic detection systems for non-cooperative aircraft.
- Drones: Designing a Vertical Take-Off and Landing Unmanned Aerial System (eVTOL UAS) optimized for healthcare logistics.
- Communications: Research in satellite communication systems for autonomous drone Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations (BVLOS).
Impact and Contributions
The consortium aims to research on the mentioned technological challenges and, therefore, demonstrate the technological feasibility of using highly autonomous drones for long-range healthcare logistics tasks from automated vertiports in areas with low population density that may have limited terrestrial mobile network coverage. The project can contribute to improving safety, increasing operational autonomy, and progressing towards decarbonizing healthcare transport through electric drones.
Consortium and Technological Centers
The consortium of companies working on the project includes PILDOLABS, FUVEX, and SATELIOT. These are leading SMEs in their respective fields that complement each other to address the project’s technological challenges:
- PILDOLABS focuses on airspace design and vertiport operations,
- FUVEX on long range UAS design and construction, and
- SATELIOT on 5G IoT satellite communications.
The consortium will also benefit from the collaborations with technological centers of reference in the UAS sector such as CATEC and TECNALIA.
Budget and Financing
The project budget is set at 2.9 million euros, with a duration of 2 years. The project will be financed by CDTI (Center for Technological Development and Innovation), which has expressed confidence in the consortium by selecting the VITAS Project under the Aeronautical Technological Program (PTA) for SMEs in 2023. These grants are part of the actions and investments outlined in the National Recovery, Transformation, and Resilience Plan, receiving funding from the “Next Generation EU” funds, including the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Mechanism.