business applications

SFM - Space Fly Multiagent

The SFM service aims to combine the data provided by CBRN sensors (chemical, biological and radiological), placed on unmanned vehicles (aerial or ground) with those coming from optical sensors (video and photo, also in the infrared and thermal fields) placed both on drones and on satellites, to provide, thanks to mathematical models studied ad hoc, the real-time reworking about the zoning of the scenario.

Such re-elaborations are made available to rescuers and the remote multi agency system appointed to resolve CBRNe events, to workers and to the part of the population exposed to such events. 

The use of this service can also be made available as a preventive monitoring system for reporting any anomalies or identification of precursors, and as a post-event system to support reclamation operations, determination of cases, forensic audits and type analysis.

Users and their needs

The results and technologies that can be derived from this project can be adopted not only by firefighters but also by rescue services and medical services, by environmental agencies and private players and by any actor generally engaged in disaster management or/and by companies operating in the field of safety and security.

Important and current dual project derivations can be CBRN setup of the Army as well as the use of the system by the OPCW for inspection in war scenarios or by the Navy in theatres of massive migratory phenomena.

The involvement of reference users is going to be implemented in detail in the feasibility analysis and subsequent implementation phases by leveraging the CBRN user communities of the EU's DG Home and the Encircle platform launched by the H2020 program.

The community of users from the European Stakeholder Community (NSC) identified a number of resolution services for the proper management of CBRN events. Of these, the rapid assessment of biological agents is one of the three services identified as a priority solution in the case of a biological threat.

Primary targeted users come from the Italian government, military and civil environment. In a second phase the project will be opened up to a EU contest

Service/ system concept

The service concept is the one to create a complete system of data & information rapid acquisition/elaboration/deliver, aimed to help its Customers in their daily work in CBRNe environment. The integration of one or more of the following three key aspects such as:

-Satellite communication;                                                                             

-Mathematical ad hoc modeling;

-UAV &payloads; will make the difference in attracting Stakeholders revolving around the CBRNe environment.


The baseline service is based on four major components.


1) A Flying Segment composed by:

- A multi role light-UAV (less than 25 Kg) with 6 runner motors and BVLOS capabilities able to fly in every weather conditions. Suggested payload will be max 10 Kg;

- Payloads which have to be modular, equipped with universal standard bracket UEEQ

multiple channel communication in order to allow real-time monitoring and GPS geo-localized data transfer


2)A ground segment, composed by:


- A data processing and Gateway Station (DGPS), available locally in the area of operations, interconnected with the UAV and other locally deployed sensors, in charge of acquiring data in real time, process them to support characterization and monitoring of the event, receiving remote provided information (like EO images),  as well as data distribution to local and remote users. The DGPS can also support the running and data usage of mathematical models (see 4) locally.

- A Data Processing and Coordination station (DPCS), typically available at a remote coordination site, providing interface services for satellite data retrievals as well as retrieving data from other data sites. The station is also in charge of managing data exchange in real time with the command post and distribute them to central site users,

- communication infrastructure system enabling local (WIFI, LAN, etc) and remote (via satcom) data exchange.


3) Space Services segment composed by:

-Earth monitoring Satellite systems (access to the latest satellite data like optical, SAR, Hyperspectral, high resolution images etc;

-Meteo services;

-BLOS communication system onboard of the UAV unit to enable flight over the line of sight;

-Satellite communication service, that can be deployed everywhere to build a communication backbone for the entire system. 


4) Data elaboration and dispersion models: data coming from different sources (UAV, Satellite system,Central Operation Management centre etc.) can be used to run predictive models useful for assessing the risks caused by contaminant dispersion and therefore enabling to better manage the interventions of First Responders of CBRNe event.

Space Added Value

The main qualifying feature of the proposed concept is the combination of (i) first responders’ procedures (SOP) with (ii) ground and space-based services, (iii) agents’ dispersion models and (iv) innovative technologies represented by high safety UAVs equipped with detectors.

UAVs and agents’ dispersion models introduction results in a leverage of the Space Assets data utilization in a mutual virtuous cycle including the following innovative features:

-       Highly safe UAVs are enabled by space-based services for positioning (SatNav) and BVLOS communications (SatCom), and provides real time images and data from on-board agents’ detection sensors;

-       Ground station system for continuous data monitoring, processing and distribution (locally and / or remotely), enabling agent’s dispersion models execution based on UAVs’ provided data, by meteorological data and digital terrain model data (SatEO). The quasi real time results are communicated to first responders and mobile/fixed bases by means of point-to-point communication link and satellite link (SatCom);

-       Space based information, such as images, maps, digital terrain models, weather (SatEO), which can have a refresh time not compatible with an immediate emergency, acquire more value by providing contextualization to real time video and image acquired by UAVs’ and as an input to agents’ dispersion models capable of propagating the evolution in time of the available data sources;

-       In a post scenario and post processing phase, space-based information (SatEO), combined with UAVs’ acquired data, contribute to achieve the standards required by forensic operations and concur to create set of data that might by fundamental during investigations following the event.

Current Status

The Space Fly Multiagent Project is at the early stage of a feasibility study and has completed the URR milestone review. A stakeholder analysis has been carried out conducting interviews, questionnaires and exchanging information at CBRN conferences with users, customers, and potential suppliers of the system-service. At the current stage some early metrics driving the design of major services have been identified. The initial phase is also focusing on the preparation of a mock up exercise which is going to test some of the capabilities of the system-service emphasizing the inter-relation between space assets, UAV using remote sensing and the procedures at ground of the inter-agency response system facing a big emergency. The reference scenario selected for the study, and for the demonstration exercise, is a radiological accident on the road with release of radionuclides in the environment by fire. In the coming months the project will focus on technical and business feasibility of the identified services.

Project Managers

Contractor Project Manager

Giacomo Lunerti
RPS AEROSPACE, Via Lepetit 34, Gerenzano VA
21040 Gerenzano VA

ESA Project Manager

Volker Schumacher
ESA ECSAT, Harwell Campus. Fermi Avenue.
OX11 0FD
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1235 444 352

Status Date

Updated: 27 July 2018 - Created: 27 July 2018