Drone Hall Klagenfurt
One of the largest drone halls in Europe opened its doors in December 2019 and fascinated visitors with research results from the University of Klagenfurt.
Klagenfurt can be proud of being home to the Drone Hall Klagenfurt, the largest indoor research space for aerial vehicles with the biggest tracking volume in Europe: 100 square meters large (extensible to 150 square meters by opening a sliding door) and 10 meters high. It has been built to support the work of many young and enthusiastic scientists at the University of Klagenfurt, in particular, those contributing to the area of aerial vehicles.
Not only is the hall the most modern one of its kind but it is enriched by all kinds of (technical) details as well. Some of them are 5G connectivity, dimmable lighting, university campus proximity, and volume tracking realized by 37 OptiTrack motion capture cameras.
To ensure workplace safety to our researchers, 30 square meters is enclosed in a cage, i.e. “control centre” from where drones are being operated. Cameras mounted all over the hall track the volume at a position update frequency of up to 360 Hz, with 0.13 millimetres precision, and an average of 0.5 millimetres absolute positional accuracy.
The first showcase in the Drone Hall took place on December 10, 2019, at the official opening. It was a demonstration with eight Crazyflie drones coordinated in space and time, representing two natural phenomena of synchronization and swarming . This work has been realized by the Karl Popper Kolleg on Networked Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (NAV), namely by four doctoral students (Michał Barciś, Agata Barciś, Roland Jung, Petra Mazdin) along with four professors (Christian Bettstetter, Hermann Hellwagner, Bernhard Rinner, Stephan Weiss). Visitors were impressed and had positive comments when leaving the hall and it certainly was a nice push to keep up the good work.
The NAV group is working on the 3D reconstruction project realized by an autonomous and distributed swarm of larger drones equipped with cameras, and the size of the Drone Hall and its accessories allows them to test the system before flying outdoors.
Apart from the NAV group, research in the area of autonomous aerial vehicles also carried out in other research groups. In particular, the Control of Networked Systems Group (CNS) led by Stephan Weiss focuses on control and state estimation for aerial vehicles where the sub-millimeter position accuracy of the motion capture system in the hall provides excellent means for ground-truthing, bench-marking, and algorithm analysis.
The new infrastructure is a key ingredient for high-quality contributions in research. Together with our expertise in the field, we are convinced that the opening of the Drone Hall marks an important milestone for the Dronehub K and will further boost the drone research at the University of Klagenfurt.
 Agata Barciś, Michał Barciś, Christian Bettstetter. Robots that Sync and Swarm: A Proof of Concept in ROS 2. In Proc. International Symposium on Multi-Robot and Multi-Agent Systems (MRS), 2019.