LUMEN - Light UAS in non-segregated airspace for Maritime and Environmental surveillance demonstration

You are here

LUMEN (Light UAS in non-segregated airspace for Maritime and Environmental surveillance) is a demonstration project aiming at promoting the operational use of a light RPAS (Remote Piloted Aircraft Systems) for Maritime surveillance and Environmental (Flood) monitoring delivering real-time information to the end-users.  For this, the LUMEN system combines different space technologies: GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Signals) for navigation of the RPAS and geo-correction of the acquired data and real-time satellite communication to transfer the acquired data from the Ground Control Station to the service provider.

The LUMEN service will be demonstrated through performing RPAS missions above the Belgian part of the North Sea for the maritime use case and the catchment of the Poperingevaart for the flood monitoring case.

Objectives of the service

The objective of the LUMEN project is to demonstrate in pre-operational conditions a near-real time service both for maritime surveillance and flood monitoring applications based on a flexible data collection by means of a light-weight medium sized RPA platform. A secondary goal is to demonstrate the safe insertion of RPAS in non-segregated airspace.

 Satellite communication capabilities are used for data transfer and Beyond Radio Line Of Sight (BRLOS) Command and Control links. The service will be carried out in Belgium, providing airborne maritime surveillance and flood mapping services to the involved Belgian and Flemish administrations.

Fig: The RPAS platform that will be used for the LUMEN demonstrations

Users and their needs

The following end users involved in the LUMEN project are:

A first assessment with the users revealed the following needs:

Maritime case:

  • Operation costs of the current used systems are considerable. A more cost effective platform would allow to increase the number of routine surveys
  • Surveillance flights pose a certain risk to the people involved, an RPAS could decrease those risks considerably.
  • A less detectable platform compared to the current conventional platform is preferred.

Flood monitoring case:

  •  A faster delivery of the images/information is required.
  • Due to the large extend of the floods, a platform with a larger endurance is an asset.
  • A system involving less operational risk to the people is desired.

Service/ system concept

The LUMEN service concept is based on the utilization of a light-weight RPA platform acquiring data/information according to the expressed user needs. As a consequence, a flexible payload system is foreseen. 

The data acquired by the RPA is then transmitted in near real-time from the RPA to the Ground Control Station (GCS). From the GCS, the data is either send directly via terrestrial means or over a satellite link to a service/processing centre.

After data processing (notably using satellite based EO data) the information/data is delivered to the end-user through an internet service.

Depending on the use case, the demonstrated concept is meant to be advantageous over current existing systems. The use of an RPA platform provides more flexibility, is more cost-effective, and implies less risk to involved people than operations with conventional airborne platforms. A potential other asset is the fast provisioning of data to the end-user by using satellite uplink and internet services. 

Space Added Value

Three space assets will be exploited in the LUMEN project: 

  1. GNSS data:
  • allow RPA navigation and are mandatory for Beyond Line Of Sight operations.
  • are mandatory for geo-referencing of the payload data. 
  1. Broadband satellite communications:
  • allow transferring of payload data from the GCS to service provider processing centre in near-real time.
  • Inmarsat satellite communications will be tested for BRLOS C&C of the RPA
  • Use of satellite communication for voice communication between the Pilot in Control and ATC will be tested. 
  1. High resolution satellite based data will be used to improve the rapid geo-location of the images acquired with the RPAS system using common ground control points in the two set of images.

Product Benefits

Two particular use cases will be demonstrated in the project.

Generally one could state that the provided services will need to be more cost–efficient and provide information faster than the conventional means.

More specifically, the expected benefits brought by the services developed in the project slightly differ depending on the use case. The use of a less detectable RPAS system instead of a conventional aircraft is a major benefit for the maritime surveillance use case. It is also further anticipated that lower operations costs will allow a higher surveillance rate. The major benefit for the flood use case is the faster delivery of the imagery as well as the fact no people is on board which reduces the risk.

Product Features

The LUMEN Demonstration project focuses on the provision of near real-time imagery and services acquired through an RPAS system and will represent as well a significant contribution to define and pave the way to the future integration of RPAS into the general Air Traffic Control (ATC).

A Cruiser RPAS platform equipped with all required technology (e.g. mode-S transponder) to allow safe flights in non-segregated airspace will be used for the demonstration. The RPA will be equipped with day/night gimbal video payload transmitting the data to the GCS (Ground Control Station).

Satellite communications in Ku-Band will be used for payload data-transfer between the GCS and the service provider processing centre where the data will undergo a real-time processing step.  After this the processed data will be made available to the end-user using internet services.  

 The Ku-band satellite communication link will also be used to demonstrate Voice over IP (VoIP) communication between the GCS and the ATC service providers.  This is a backup to the formally required VHF communication. 

 Inmarsat satellite communication will be used as well to test Beyond Radio Line of Sight (BRLOS) Command and Control (C&C) operations, and implemented during the demonstrations. 

The LUMEN demonstration flights will be performed from the Koksijde airport located at the Belgian Coast covering the Belgian part of the North Sea and the catchment of the Poperingevaart.  Multiple demonstration flights for both use cases will be performed in segregated and non-segregated military and civil controlled airspace. Those flights will be undertaken in close collaboration with the selected end-users and involved stakeholders such as the Belgium CAA and civil and military ATC service providers. 

The system and communications architecture is presented in the figure below:

Key Issues

The LUMEN project will address the potential benefits of using an RPAS system for providing near real-time imagery or information as part of an overall service. This will be demonstrated through two uses cases: maritime surveillance and flood monitoring.

Further the benefits of (high) bandwidth satellite communication for payload transmission and BRLOS C&C will be demonstrat

Two particular use cases will be demonstrated in the project.

Generally one could state that the provided services will need to be more cost–efficient and provide information faster than the conventional means.

More specifically, the expected benefits brought by the services developed in the project slightly differ depending on the use case. The use of a less detectable RPAS system instead of a conventional aircraft is a major benefit for the maritime surveillance use case. It is also further anticipated that lower operations costs will allow a higher surveillance rate. The major benefit for the flood use case is the faster delivery of the imagery as well as the fact no people is on board which reduces the risked. Another important challenge however will be the integration of the RPAS into non-segregated airspace. 

Current Status

The project has been kicked-off in September 2013.

The Baseline Design Review took place on 16 December 2013 and is currently under finalisation. The User requirements and system requirements have been consolidated.  In the next few months the system architecture will be elaborated and negotiations for the demonstration flights with aviation authorities will start.

Prime Contractor(s)

Status Date

Updated: 07 March 2014 - Created: 07 March 2014