Recently, the addition of the Dronehall (article on dronehub) gave a significant boost to the drone research in the Dronehub at the University of Klagenfurt (AAU). The Dronehub Klagenfurt, however, is by far limited to indoor flight tests: joining interests with the I-MFG Wörthersee enables cutting edge research in (multi-drone) autonomy to be ported to real outdoor environments.
I-MFG Wörthersee is a non profit private association for fixed-wing, helicopter and multi-copter UAV pilots. The group already has many model aircraft pilots, who won both international competitions and numerous national championship titles and who have a profound understanding of drone integration. The group has a long history, dating back to the late 1930’s. In 2014, Andreas Pirold established the association „Interessen — Modellfluggruppe — Wörthersee“ and in spring 2018 AAU became a member.
The membership strengthens the efforts at the institutes of the University of Klagenfurt (CNS, KPK-NAV, NES) involved in drone research. The aim is to exchange information, to shape collaboration, and share experiences about (autonomous) unmanned aircrafts. The airfield is accessible the whole year allowing outdoor experiments even in winter time and other harsh environment conditions providing important testing possibilities for next generation autonomy capabilities. Electricity at the airfield is provided by a photovoltaic power station, which can be used to charge batteries and laptops.
At this airfield AAU already performed tests for different projects, e.g.:
- Autonomous take-off and landing capability for the FFG project MODULES
- Autonomous test flights for the doctoral school on Networked Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (KPK-NAV).
- Autonomous visual-inertial drone navigation for the analog mars mission AMADEE-20 in collaboration with the Austrian Space Forum (ÖWF) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
Flight zones at the airfield
The airfield is strictly defined by precise flight zones and regulations therein. The field allows for line of sight flights over a reasonable sized area for larger outdoor tests of novel navigation algorithms and multi-agent scenarios while respecting safety issues.