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23 May 2024 - Jann Raveling

8 Bremen Companies and Institutes with a Focus on Drones

Aerospace

Drone companies and projects from Bremen

Drones bring added value to many companies: they can move autonomously in all three dimensions and use cameras and microphones to gather data across vast areas. They can transport loads, devices or sensors. When combined with Artificial Intelligence, they can open up entirely new areas of business.

Drone technology has made enormous leaps forward in recent years. Nowadays, they are so reasonably priced that they can be given as Christmas gifts and yet are also so very diverse in form and function, from mini models that can fit into the palm of your hand to heavy-duty multicopters that can carry loads of hundreds of kilos.

Drones really do come in all shapes and sizes. For example, there's the multicopters, which usually have four rotor blades, drones which resemble helicopters or aircraft which are driven by propellers or turbofans. There's also a number of hybrid variants. UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) can stay in the air for time periods ranging from a few minutes up to dozens of hours.

These Bremen-based companies and institutes show how companies can use this new technology to best effect:

8 Bremen-based companies and projects involved with civil aviation drones

Drone from above
A drone for the "Advanced Air Mobility Initiative Northwest Germany and German Bay" project © WFB/Lehmkühler

Optoprecision GmbH

This company is a specialist service provider in a number of different engineering disciplines and manufactures small production runs of high precision technology items. Recently, these now include drone projects. For example, the company is developing the "ROCHEN VT-4" drones that will be used for monitoring purposes in the North Sea (see below). This flying apparatus, which is capable of autonomous flight, even in harsh weather conditions, has a range of up to 600 kilometres, a flying time of six hours and can carry around 12 kilogrammes of sensor technology. The company is also working on other drones for use, for example, in the agricultural sector.

Hanseatic Aviation Solutions GmbH

Hanseatic Aviation Solutions is developing an entire range of UAVs. These will be used, first and foremost, in areas where safety is of primary importance. A good example is the LARUS project in which a drone has been developed for maritime rescue tasks. In an emergency situation, it will be used to provide the on-site rescue ships with additional information. This company's models can remain airborne for several hours and fly distances of more than 600 kilometres.

POLARIS Raumflugzeuge GmbH

The sky is not the limit – at least not for POLARIS, whose craft are destined to fly into space. However, they're not going to take off like rockets. Instead, they'll use runways, like an ordinary airplane. Once airborne, they'll fire a rocket engine to take them up into space. On the return journey, they'll land back on the runway so they can be used again. This ambitious concept should be ready for series production by the end of this decade. The expanding team working at this young start-up is already working on prototype drones.

TRILITEC GmbH

The sensors used in industry and agriculture are TRILITEC GmbH's bread and butter. This start-up began by developing a system of sensors that enabled farmers to detect foreign objects in their fields, automatically. This means that they are able to stop the tractors and combine harvesters in good time and prevent damage to the machines. This idea is now entering a new phase with the "Autodrohn" research project: Working together with the University of Bremen, this start-up is currently developing a drone system that can detect any animals that are present in fields. This gives the farmers the chance to protect the creatures from the harvesters and also prevent damage to their agricultural machines.

Lighter than air
Lighter than air - the BIBA Institute in Bremen is researching drones for interiors © Aleksandra Himstedt / BIBA

b.r.m. IT & Aerospace GmbH

b.r.m. brings together expertise in digital systems and aviation: a combination that's tailor-made for drone systems. This is why the company is an important partner in the "Advanced Air Mobility Initiative Nordwestdeutschland und Deutsche Bucht" (Advanced Air Mobility Initiative Northwest Germany and the German Bay) research project and aims to achieve certification as a drone control centre for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs). The company is also involved in other projects for improving drone technology, not least those in the sector of mobile telephony.

Fraunhofer IFAM

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials in Bremen specialises, first and foremost, in the fields of adhesive bonding technology and surfaces, shaping and functional materials. However, Bremen is also the place in which Fraunhofer AVIATION is coordinated. This is an association of more than 30 Fraunhofer Institutes that are working in the aviation sector. Drones are therefore one of the many areas of research being investigated in Bremen. A special feature is the IFAM's Offshore Drone Campus in Cuxhaven which is home to the test and development infrastructure needed for unmanned aviation systems. The Institute in Bremen is also actively involved in practical applications. In one project, drones are used to count and monitor grey seal colonies.

BIBA – Bremer Institut für Produktion und Logistik

Not every drone is destined for use in the open air. The massive buildings you see in docks or high-bay warehouses also have enough space in which to fly drones. This is where the BIBA Institute in Bremen has carried out two projects with lighter-than-air drones: balloons that use drone technology. This has many advantages: airship drones are quiet, durable and don't cause much damage when things go wrong. In BIBA's "safetyDrone" project, researchers are working on a drone that will perform operational safety work in the shipbuilding industry whereas the "DroneStock" project aims to develop an airborne vehicle that can check the pallet stock levels in a warehouse. The Bremen-based teams are also working on drones that will be used, for example, to inspect wind farm turbines.

University of Bremen (U Bremen Research Alliance)

Another exciting project has been brought to life by Bremen's scientists. In it, a drone and artificial intelligence have been combined to count and classify trees – more specifically, mangrove trees. The Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology are working together here. Both institutes are members of the U Bremen Research Alliance: an association of twelve institutes and the University of Bremen. Thanks to this research project, it will be easier to identify changes to forests in the future, in particular the mangrove forests that are so greatly affected by climate change.

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