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News 16.07.2018

Innovation partnership procurement implemented to digitalize drone flight control system

Photo: Air Navigation Services Finland

Air Navigation Services Finland (ANS Finland Oy) has begun building a data platform to produce data on the status of unmanned aircraft, i.e. drones, in real time.

Furthermore, an automatic system to manage drones will be developed, based on the data produced by the platform, to facilitate drone traffic in Finnish airspace. The project will be implemented as an innovation partnership procurement and is being funded by Business Finland.

ANS Finland Oy is building a platform that combines data and services to present the status of safe, unmanned aviation in real time. The required data includes 3D location information and information on communications, weather and airspace reservations and use in real time. "The platform project is based on our understanding of the need to understand the comprehensive status of our airspace in real time, in order to enable growth and ensure the safety of drone operations," explains ANS Finland's Senior Vice President, CMO & CCO, Director Pasi Nikama: "This development is supported by pending EU legislation, which we want to be among the first to implement."

The data platform will also propel us towards revolutionary automatic flying without visual contact with the drone. In practice, this means that the pilot flies one or more remotely controlled drones without following them to the site. This will also mean a major improvement in the cost efficiency of services.

The platform will also accelerate the industry's development by creating business opportunities for companies interested in developing digital services for drone operators. The platform provides a foundation on which companies offering operator services can create their own solutions. "We believe that this data platform will markedly accelerate business development in the near future. Furthermore, a flexible licensing procedure, safe aviation environment and our pioneering position in remotely controlling aircrafts without visual contact are sure to attract foreign investments," says Chief Adviser Piia Moilanen, who is in charge of funding for innovative public procurements in Business Finland.

Hopefully, other actors specializing in platform building will follow the progress of this project, because ANS Finland intends to implement it via the new innovation partnership procurement procedure. Innovation partnership is a new public procurement model defined in the Finnish Act on Public Procurement and Concession Contracts which entered into force on 1 January 2017. Rather than purchasing an existing solution from the market, innovation partnership procurement involves the creation of a suitable solution in collaboration with a range of companies and research organizations, for example.

The platform project will be initiated this summer, when the search begins for suitable partners. By the end of the year, a demo version of a flight control system utilizing the novel platform will be ready for testing.

This project is part of Business Finland's Artificial Intelligence and Platform Economy Program, which aims to accelerate the development of the platform economy in Finland.

Further information

Business Finland's funding for innovative procurements is targeted at public procurement units that aim to renew their services and operations. Funding is granted for the development and preparation of innovative procurement, and for the joint development of solutions. A key element of the project involves collaborating with potential bidders and end-users.