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MultiDrone Test Weeks

After more than two years of research, development and local testing, the MultiDrone platform is ready to be applied to real use cases. After some searching for the right place to do this, the consortium met up for the last two weeks of September 2019 in Bothkamp, a small village in the north of Germany, which offered the perfect setup for the MultiDrone test weeks.

Setup and test flights

During the first week, all partners were focused on getting settled and setting up the MultiDrone platform for the three testing scenarios. The drones had to be assembled, the network established and tested, the sensors connected and fine-tuned and the pilots prepared to take over drone control in emergency situations. While the technical partners were focused on those first steps, the user partners started planning and mapping the envisioned scenarios through the Producer’s dashboard and arranged the locations for the user scenarios.

Bothkamp offered the best place for all three scenarios:

  • A remote lake for the rowing setup
Impressions from the rowing scenario testrun
  • A large, open field with a small street for the cycling race
Impressions from the cycling scenario testrun
  • And an area with several movable obstacles for the parkour run
Impressions from the parkour scenario testrun

After a week of preparations, the Consortium ran through all three scenarios, testing and evaluation every aspect of the MultiDrone platform. The scenarios showed both the great possibilities of the platform as well as its limitations. While the different automated tracking modules worked well in most cases, the focusing of the camera didn’t always work. There were sometimes issues with the network, creating a latency, which made working with the camera signal difficult. But overall, the system proved that it was capable of automatically getting the drones in position and shooting the envisioned scenarios, clearly following the prepared flight paths. While there were always backup pilots ready to intervene, it was never necessary.

A happy MultiDrone flight crew at the end of the successful test week

Rund um Wannsee – the real test

With all tests scenarios completed, the consortium packed up all materials and moved on to Berlin, where the real challenges was waiting: The rowing race “Rund um Wannsee”. With only one day for test-runs on location and an unfortunate weather forecast, the team had a tight schedule ahead.

But the training during the previous weeks payed off – and even though the team had to put in some effort to protect the equipment from incoming rain showers several times, the group managed to get everything ready for the big day ahead.

Protecting the equipment

So on the actual race day, Sunday, September 29th, two “MultiDrones” went up in the air and performed the planned and previsioned flights, without any major deviations. All technical aspects, like the control network, the automated tracking and the independant flight mode worked well and the drones produced some good footage of the race. Just after the last boat was through, all drones were returned safely back to the landing area – right before the rain started again.

Impressions from the MultiDrone media production Rund um Wannsee

Since the MultiDrone system is still an experimental one, none of the drones flew close up to the rowers. But the event was covered additionally with two commercial drone systems, adding some more close-up perspectives for the production. In addition a Deutsche Welle camera crew covered the whole race, from the starting point to the award ceremony, to produce a behind-the-scenes documentary of the preparations and the event itself.

If you are interested in the the drones perspectives as well as more insights into the whole MultiDrone test week, stay tuned — we are going to publish the full video after the end of the project.

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