The Integrated Aerial Mobility program draws on the National Research Council of Canada's (NRC) expertise in aerospace, energy, advanced materials and digital technologies to overcome the technical and regulatory challenges of the next generation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The program supports the safe and responsible integration of UAS into national airspace.
The vertical take-off and landing capability of UAS promises to transform mobility by alleviating congestion in our cities. The adaptability of UAS opens the door to their wider use in many other applications like remote sensing for forest fires, unmanned cargo delivery, and military operations.
The NRC works with industry, academia, and the public sector to develop critical and key technologies to strengthen Canada's supply chain, develop new technology solutions, support the development of UAS regulations, and enrich our talent pool of highly skilled aerospace researchers.
The 7-year Integrated Aerial Mobility program, launched in 2019, is already developing the technologies that will make this vision a reality, including:
- Optical sensor-based detect and avoid technologies to assist path planning of autonomous vehicles
- Drone docking technologies to support contact-based aerial robotics tasks
- Manufacturing of high-density and safe ceramic lithium batteries to enable low-emission hybrid-electric propulsion
Collaboration is an important part to achieving integrated aerial mobility, and the program is designed to bring together partners of all types. Leading Canadian universities and companies of all sizes are engaged in the program.
Working with the NRC enables companies and academics to benefit from our unique facilities and the expertise of 300+ aerospace researchers with diverse specializations, including integrated design, remote sensing, airspace management, synthetic world generation and interpretation, path planning, human factors, robotics for contact-based tasks, drone impact assessment, weather tolerance and advanced manufacturing. The program leverages the skills of researchers from a number of NRC Research Centres, which include expertise in aerospace, machine learning, sensors, cyber security, energy storage and digital technologies.
The Aerospace Research Centre has a track record of working with global aerospace companies, and welcomes the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Integrated Aerial Mobility program. Participating SMEs could be eligible for funding through the NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program, an innovation assistance program that helps SMEs build their innovative capacity.
Technical and advisory services
The NRC provides key technical and research services and expertise to partners on a one‑on‑one basis. We can assist and guide clients and partners in proven approaches for technology development, validation and qualification. Our multidisciplinary array of technical capabilities includes:
Partners and clients have access to the NRC's wide range of facilities, instrumentation, and equipment. We also provide computational, analysis and simulation support, including structural analysis, computational fluid dynamics and integrated physics-based uninhabited aircraft modelling and simulation. Our experimental facilities include:
- 2 m x 3 m wind tunnel
- 3 m x 6 m icing wind tunnel with fully instrumented icing test bench for UAS rotors
- 9 m wind tunnel
- Fly-by-wire UAS surrogates and unmanned aircrafts
- "Super Cannon" for drone impact testing
- Propulsion research facilities
- Indoor aerial robotics laboratory with replicas of elevated structures
- Reverberant acoustic chamber with phased microphone array
- Advanced manufacturing centre
Recent research publications
Assessment of drone impact on commercial aircrafts
A mid-air collision with an unmanned aerial vehicle could potentially be dangerous to an aircraft. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is collaborating with Transport Canada and other government departments to evaluate the risks associated to drones impacting aircrafts at cruising under 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude and approach phases. Since the 1960s, the NRC has been performing similar research in the context of bird impact tests on aircraft structures, windshields and engines.
Read more about drone impact assessment
Safe integration of Remotely Piloted Aircraft system (RPAS)
As the popularity of drones is rapidly growing, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is assisting Transport Canada to develop evidence-based regulations for safe integration and operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft systems (RPAS) in Canada. The NRC is supporting this regulatory development by performing R&D planning and coordination and generating scientific data utilizing its unique facilities and expert researchers.
Read more about the TC RPAS R&D Progress report
Icing Investigation for small unmanned aerial vehicle rotors and propellers
Icing build up on small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) rotors and propellers can be a serious threat. The National Research Council of Canada is investigating the icing of small propellers at high RPM to provide Transport Canada with scientific data to support the development of a safe and commercially viable regulatory framework for RPAS operations in Canada.
Read more about the Investigation of tolerance for icing of small UAV rotors/propellers: phase 2
Business Development Team
Aerospace Research Centre