Ground effect drone

Sustainable mobility: HES-SO partners, including ROSAS, are building a ground effect aircraft flying over bodies of water for the rapid, reliable, safe and economical transport of vital products.




Safety & Reliability, Cybersecurity

Ground effect drone

Many organisations, such as UNICEF or the World Bank, are calling for projects for drones to improve the delivery of medical products throughout the world. Indeed, there are many populations whose geographical location prevents the proper reception of medical supplies. This may be because the road system is failing or simply does not exist, for example, if the locality is surrounded by water. In these cases, the use of helicopters or aeroplanes is useful, but has a large impact on the surrounding environment. On the other hand, conventional drones have a short range and consume a lot of energy when carrying heavy loads.

ROSAS, through the involvement of the HEIA-FR, is participating in the carrier drone project in close collaboration with the HEPIA, the HEVS and the HEIG-VD. Together, we are aiming to create an autonomous aircraft capable of transporting large loads at high speed with low fuel consumption. Currently, we are developing a demonstrator - a small functional prototype capable of carrying a payload the size of a litre of water or blood over a body of water.

Project and objectives

The vehicle will fly on the surface of the water generating a pressure surge underneath the vehicle, thus alleviating its energy demand. The non-contact with the water will prevent any disturbance of marine fauna (no propeller underwater) and will avoid floating obstacles. This method will allow the exploitation of water bodies that are not or not easily navigable (e.g. the Valaisan Rhone or the Congo River). Thanks to the proximity of a body of water, the aircraft will carry out emergency landings in complete safety and avoid any danger of falling on a population.

In this project, ROSAS develops the safety and cybersecurity aspect of the concept. In other words, we demonstrate that the UAV, as a complex technical system, ensures a design that complies with current safety rules and regulations concerning functional and operational safety, and cybersecurity.

The reference regulations are being developed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and will probably be officially published in 2022. In the meantime, we refer to the regulations for manned aircraft. Being operationally safe means that the unmanned aircraft complies with the JARUS guidelines on Specific Operations Risk Assessment issued by EASA to ensure the safe operation of this category of drones. In particular when operating without direct visual contact (Beyond Visual Line of Sight). On the functional safety aspect, since there are not yet sufficient standards for this type of drone, we refer to the work we are doing on larger A320-type aircraft, adapting the standards so that they correspond more closely to the model we are creating.

Safety assessments are carried out in accordance with SORA guidelines to ensure that the required Specific Assurance and Integrity Level determines the required risk tolerance for the integrity and robustness of the UAV, i.e. its operational safety. Thus, for the operation under control, abnormal situations and unexpected procedures, as well as emergency procedures, are identified.

In the video, the drone is a prototype and changes constantly. We will publish the final version when the project will be done. HEIA-FR - HEPIA - HEVS - HEIG-VD



Project leader

Noca Flavio, HEPIA -

Redaction : Marine Meixenberger

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