At a glance
The Merck company, which is headquartered in Darmstadt, has various plants in the surrounding area. Samples and other substances have to be transported between these sites on a regular basis, usually by van. The core task of the project "ProGeDa - Sample Transport between Gernsheim and Darmstadt" was to find out how this regular plant transport can be made faster, more efficient, more environmentally friendly and more cost-effective. Until now, the transport has been handled by a van that travels the route between the plants twice a week. The drone manufacturer Wingcopter produced a special drone for this purpose and was commissioned with the planning & execution of the drone mission. Droniq supported the flight operation with a live aerial situation picture of the air traffic in the close-up area and provided hardware for locating the drone as well as the air traffic along the route.
In early February 2020, Wingcopter's drone flew a container of pigment samples from Merck's Gernsheim site to the laboratory at the company's headquarters in Darmstadt, about 25 km away, where the samples must be analyzed to ensure quality in the ongoing production process. The drone flew automatically according to a pre-programmed route safely over highways, residential areas as well as near the busy Egelsbach airfield. A pilot was standing by in both Gernsheim and Darmstadt who could have intervened in an emergency. After the drone landed safely in Darmstadt, the sample was taken and the drone flew back to Gernsheim on its predetermined course.
Since Wingcopter's drone flew completely automatically, the emergency pilots at the take-off and landing sites always had to have an up-to-date picture of other air traffic. For this purpose, Droniq equipped the drone with a HOD4track, which sent its position to the UAS Traffic Management System (UTM) of DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH every second via the Telekom mobile network. The HOD4track was completely integrated into the aircraft. A web-based display showed the position of the drone as well as position data of relevant air traffic. For this purpose, two Droniq ground stations (Ground-based Situational Awareness System, GBSAS) were set up along the route, which receive the position data of manned air traffic and also send it to the UTM.