We caught up with Jordi Salvador Bernadi of BCN Drone Center at Aerial Cities, the invitation-only event for AAM, Drone, CAA and City decision-makers. Since Aerial Cities in November 2023, Jordi has assumed the role of CEO at BCN Drone Center, after almost 10 incredible years as CTO.

Jordi and Eszter Kovács, CEO and Co-Founder of DroneTalks discussed the initiatives BCN Drone Center is working on to engage the end user, providing them with information on the full chain of systems with in-depth showcases at their facilities, as well as how autonomy will drive more revenue generation opportunities, and whether revenue creation is currently possible.

The pair also touched on the BCN and DroneTalks collaboration to provide regulatory and SORA training, and the successes of the first year holding the retreat!

How Barcelona Drone Center provides drone test facilities to UAS stakeholders 

Barcelona Drone Center is a test site located just an hour away from Barcelona, offering state-of-the-art facilities to all UAS stakeholders seeking to test their UAS in a safe but realistic environment. 

Telling us about the facilities at the BCN Drone Center, Jordi commented “We have an air-specific airspace, so we can fly test drones. We have an airfield, we have facilities, we have a team of engineers that can support on integrations, rapid prototyping.”

Jordi told us how their facilities are not the only way they can help UAS stakeholders, as they also have an incredible network of companies and experts around to offer support to set up partnerships in Europe.  

DroneTalks and Barcelona Drone Center’s collaboration on regulatory and SORA training

Talking about last year’s training week Jordi explained: “We found a way in which we can sit all together and not just talk about theoretical regulation in the classroom, but also then get outside the airfield, test the thing, see the things flying, touch it with our hands, see that remote ID, see that EU space software working, see how we are performing conformity, assess manipulation, test flight, everything.”

The training offers a hands-on approach to provide a strong understanding of current and upcoming regulations, as well as the knowledge of how to apply SORA 2.5 methodology to your UAS operations. During the training, the attendees can learn more about the EU and US regulatory frameworks and understand the pros and cons. 

After the success of last year, the 5-day training retreat is returning on the 10th - 14th of June 2024.

The first two days of the course will focus on providing attendees with the latest updates in the European drone industry, including the newly implemented U-space regulations, as well as a comparison with the American framework. Modules focussing on the regulatory side including ‘Regulations on U-space (2021/664, 665 and 666) and draft AMC/GM’, ‘Updates on planned regulatory work, research, and monitoring of EU member states’ and ‘Policy for drone technical approval’

The remainder of the week aims to provide attendees with an understanding of the SORA 2.5 methodology. Our experts will cover everything from the foundational concepts to practical use cases to help you master the best risk management framework for drones. Module highlights for the SORA modules include ‘Semantic Model and key SORA 2.5 principles’, ‘The ConOps and OM’ and a Deep Dive into SAIL/SO. 

As Jordi explained in the interview, this is not just a classroom-based training course, but a technical retreat. Every day involves a flight demo on the BCN airfields, backing up the theoretical teachings of the day, such as a flight demo showcasing Contingency & Emergency Procedures, or BVLOS Operational Authorisation, for example. 

With social activities in the evenings to explore and learn about the culture of the local area, this retreat offers more than just foundational knowledge but combines theoretical and practical teachings in a relaxed but productive environment. 

Can we create revenue with the current level of autonomy in the drone industry?

Recapping about the event, where Jordi spoke on the autonomy panel, Eszter asked Jordi whether he believes we can create revenue now, without high levels of autonomy. 

Jordi believes that creating revenue now is a possibility. However, for some use cases, Jordi highlighted the importance of prioritising improving the autonomy of the system from one pilot, one drone, to one pilot multiple drones, to the possibility of zero pilots and infinite drones in the air.

The reason for this, Jordi highlighted is “to reduce the cost and make this technology affordable for all the different use cases that we are seeing, not only from medical delivery, that is one of the most frequent use cases that we're seeing nowadays, but moving this to grocery delivery and beyond”.

How is BCN Drone Center engaging the end user with drone technology? 

We asked Jordi about BCN Drone Center’s new initiative where companies can showcase their products to the end user. 

Jordi explained that in order to better understand what the end user is looking for from drone technology, they are holding a range of discovery workshops and commercial events at their facilities.

Outlining what these events consist of, Jordi commented: “We bring to the test site people that are technology services, products that are ready to go into the market. And then we build a storytelling around that, that has a part that is based on a kind of oral presentation. But then we move to the test facilities that are just 1-minute walk from the conference room and we see them flying that in an operative way. And in the audience, we try to bring all those end users that are receptive to start using this technology.”

This isn’t just an opportunity to showcase drone technology, but Jordi also told us how they bring in other stakeholders, such as box manufacturers and logistics experts who are working on warehouse automation. 

With a story-telling approach, this provides the end user with the full chain of systems that are needed to deploy drone solutions, giving them a full understanding of how it works and what it requires.

About BCN Drone Center

BCN Drone Center is a UAS test site with segregated airspace, airfield and all necessary facilities to advance this technology. Located in a favourable Mediterranean weather area, BCN Drone Center provides the ideal environment for UAS development and testing.

With 20+ years of experience in the UAS sector, BCN Drone Center offers comprehensive services for deploying any UAS project or idea to the market. 

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