[Originally posted on LinkedIn in January 2018]

It is not a straightforward task to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAVs or drones. They are subject to intense European, national and local regulations which must be followed before any launch can happen.

– Whereas drones offer great, new ways of assessing a situation, giving a quick overview of a mass crowd and identifying potential security and health incidents, they also present considerable danger. Moving over a crowd, they can potentially cause physical injuries. They can also fall into the wrong hands, becoming surveillance tools or weapons, which calls for a strict, operational control, explains Marco Cipolato, Aerospace Engineer at DigiSky.

In Italy where Digisky is doing the airship testing, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority does not allow any remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) to fly over crowded areas. This includes any remotely piloted aerial vehicle without persons on board which is not used for recreational or sports purposes. Therefore, any system that has capabilities to be remotely piloted, featuring a receiver connected to propellers for example, cannot be used over MONICA events.

Consequently, DigiSky has developed a prototype which resembles a tethered balloon more than a RPAS. The blimp is allowed as long as it does not float more than 40 meters above ground, and it is not close to an airport area. The rope has a dual purpose, enabling field operators to control the altitude of the balloon and to move it around the venue area.

For the full story and to see a video of the MONICA airship in action, visit: http://www.monica-project.eu/index.php/2017/11/06/monitoring-crowds-monica-airship/

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