Drones support Estonian emergency services during pandemic

The Estonian Air Navigation Services, the country’s air traffic controller, has teamed up with two companies to support the Estonian emergency services with drones during the coronavirus pandemic.

The air traffic controller teamed up with the Estonian unmanned aerial systems manufacturer, Threod Systems, and Frequentis, an Austrian information systems developer, to support Estonian emergency forces with a series of essential drone operations during the coronavirus lockdown. The operations are supporting the country’s emergency services with medical transport and information gathering, Frequentis said in a statement.

In several regions of the country, the police, together with the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences, have used drones to inform the public of the lockdown rules and to monitor activity. Local authorities also require support with transporting medical supplies to remote or island locations.

A Threod Systems drone carrying a coronavirus sample from Hiiumaa island to mainland Estonia. Photo by Threod Systems.

Real-time situational awareness

“Severe movement restrictions were implemented for Hiiumaa with the mainland of Estonia, among other islands, during the lockdown to stop any virus spread,” Mikk Murumäe, a cofounder and the lead software engineer at Threod, said in a statement.

“Threod Systems set out to support local authorities with medical and other urgent transport to the mainland, including forwarding COVID-19 test samples. This served as a very successful proof of concept to provide an alternative and relief to manned emergency air lifting services, which are urgently required elsewhere during these types of situation.”

The Estonian Air Navigation Services continues to operate the Estonian airspace, providing services to manned flights and international manned coronavirus relief flights, but the need to safely integrate drones for this special mission meant reactivating the Frequentis flight information management system from the previous drone trials.

The Frequentis flight information management system.

The system provides real-time situational awareness to air traffic controllers, enabling both manned flights and Threod drones to safely share the same airspace, providing controllers with the complete air situation picture.

Safe integration of unmanned and manned aviation

The air traffic controller is currently developing the concept of operations for accelerating the roll-out of Estonian U-space. These drone operations supporting public safety during the lockdown were another step closer outline the roadmap for enabling safe and secure integration of unmanned and manned aviation into Estonian airspace.

A Threod Systems drone carrying coronavirus samples from Hiiumaa island. Photo by Threod Systems.

The Estonian Air Navigation Services is a public limited company owned by the Estonian government. Its duties include air traffic management, aerodromes, aeronautical information management etc.

Threod Systems is a developer and producer of unmanned aircraft systems that include both fixed-wing and vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial vehicles.

Frequentis is an Austrian tech company that develops communication and information systems in fields such as air traffic management and public safety and transport.

Cover: A Threod Systems drone. Photo by Threod Systems.

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