The AGORA project takes off to consolidate Andalusia as a benchmark in the unmanned aerial vehicles sector

Airbus and Fada-Catec join forces to develop a set of technologies for the safe integration of drones in airspace

The Regional Minister of University, Research and Innovation, José Carlos Gómez Villamandos, has presented the AGORA project (Experimental Air Traffic Management Unit for Autonomous Vehicles) at the Atlas Experimental Flight Center, in Villacarrillo (Jaén), a highlighting that it contributes to Andalusia “continuing to make a difference and be a benchmark in a sector as strategic as aerospace and specifically in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles”. This has been revealed during the official launch of this initiative that has the support of the Junta de Andalucía through a grant of 1.06 million euros. Villamandos recalled that the Andalusian Government allocates almost €8M in 2023 to support strategic initiatives in this area

Specifically, the AGORA project is launched through a Joint Innovation Unit (UIC) between Airbus, a company specialized in aeronautical and space construction and its machinery, and the Andalusian Foundation for Aerospace Development (Fada), oriented to activities R&D and the provision of advanced services for the aeronautical sector. It involves a private investment of 1.83 million euros.

During the event, Gómez Villamandos pointed out that the AGORA project, in addition to promoting the development of drone applications with a high socioeconomic value in Andalusia, will open the door to new businesses and attract interest from other companies and potential users by “generating technology that can then be applied to other sectors”.

In this sense, he has highlighted that it is a sector in full expansion, with great global growth, taking into account the increase in its manufacture and its inclusion in the airspace. And for this reason, in his opinion, one of the most relevant questions that arises in this context “is everything related to the management of air traffic of drones” to guarantee their integration safely and efficiently.

The objective of AGORA is to anticipate and lead the needs that may arise in this field with the aim of contributing to Andalusia being a pioneer in hosting airspaces where all types of aircraft can coexist in harmony.

The head of University, Research and Innovation recalled that the Andalusian Government has allocated almost 8 million euros in the 2023 Budget to support strategic initiatives in this area, “such as the Villacarrillo Experimental Flight Center (ATLAS), the UAV Innovation Center in Seville, or the Center for Testing for Unmanned Systems (CEUS) in Huelva”. The counselor highlighted the projection of Andalusia in the field of drones with the availability of “relevant infrastructures equipped with the most innovative technology in Europe”.

In the same way, Gómez Villamandos has referred to the Aerospace Strategy of Andalusia 2021-2027, “an instrument that includes as one of its priorities the development of new businesses such as RPAS (uncrewed aircraft) and their applications” and the Plan of Action 2023-2027, which the Andalusian Government will prepare and which will contemplate “actions of each of the lines contained in the Strategy”.

Finally, the Regional Ministry has ensured that the Government of the Junta de Andalucía shares the same aspiration and interest as Airbus and Fada-Catec “to continue innovating in a key sector in our economy and productive fabric of our community”.