Deploying Drones in Hamburg

November 2020

The typical drone may be an unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV, but not all drones are airborne. The northern German city of Hamburg has just deployed the first autonomous waterborne drone for surveying waterways. It’s called “Echo 1” and can take depth measurements in places traditional sounding ships cannot.

This is only one drone initiative going on in Germany’s second largest city. Since 2018, Hamburg has been a European model city for developing civil uses of drones and other urban air traffic technology.

A consortium led by the city’s university is developing the prototype of a largely, automated airspace management system for drones.

“UAVs are an integral part of aviation in the future,” Hamburg Senator for Economics, Transport and Innovation Michael Westhagemann told online platform Hamburg News. “This project lays the foundation for integrating drones safely into existing airspace.”

Meanwhile another project is focussing on unmanned surface and underwater vehicles for gathering topographic information, inspecting harbour walls and ship hulls and collecting data from underwater acoustic sensor networks.

The German drone market is expected to be worth EUR 3 billion by 2030.

© Hamburg Aviation/Jan Brandes