Automation and Control Laboratory - Brasimone ENEA Research Centre
High-tech drones, equipped with internet of things (IoT) systems, big data and innovative sensors for safety and environmental monitoring; an automation and control laboratory to design and test remotely piloted aircraft, a flight academy open to the public, one of the largest in Italy for training pilots in critical scenarios, but also a new range of technologically advanced sensors. These are the results of the EXADRONE
project conducted by ENEA in collaboration with METAPROJECTS in the ENEA Research Center of Brasimone (Municipality of Camugnano, Bologna) and co-financed by the Emilia-Romagna Region.
In particular, in the new automation and control laboratory, new generation LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) sensors based on laser technologies developed by ENEA have been developed and tested on drones, useful for environmental monitoring and water analysis in real time, but also sensors for monitoring sites, nuclear installations and infrastructures of strategic importance such as bridges, viaducts and dams.
Through new control and data management algorithms, this new range of sensors applied to drone technology allows real-time monitoring of the possible presence of pollutants in surface waters, inspecting bridges, viaducts, dams by detecting critical issues or changes over time, monitoring sites with possible radiological pollution, searching for dispersed radioactive sources and inspecting nuclear sites.
Thanks to the presence of expert and specialized professionals, the innovative automation and control laboratory carries out mechatronic and electronic design activities, research and consultancy in the development of products, firmware and software applications, certification support for their marketing and tests are performed on sensors and automation technologies, motion control and power electronics, as well as miniaturized GPS, radio frequency and IoT localization systems, aimed in particular at support applications for the Public Administration.
The Flight Academy, recognized by ENAC as a Recognized Entity (Recognised Entities-RE, pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2019/947) in the "SPECIFIC" category, is equipped with a 1,500 square meter training ground with teaching areas, for theoretical and practical training and the qualification to pilot drones for critical operations.
“The ENEA Center of Brasimone with its 400 hectares of surface area is an ideal place to operate in total safety outside inhabited centers and host several runways authorized by ENAC for the operation of flights”, underlines Mariano Tarantino, head of ENEA's Nuclear Safety and Sustainability Division. "The airfield, with a wide range of critical training scenarios in Italy, is completed with the possibility of carrying out qualifying courses for drone pilots but also specialization courses for professionals on photogrammetry, thermography and precision agriculture and for special missions authorized by ENAC".
The EXADRONE project is part of the initiatives for the relaunch of the ENEA Center in Brasimone, a center of excellence at national and international level for the development of advanced technologies for energy, health, the environment and the territory, specialized in particular in the fields of nuclear safety, magnetic confinement fusion, liquid metal technology for new generation nuclear systems, prototyping of systems and components for energy applications, innovative technologies and materials. Projects have also been launched in the medical sector and training and logistical support are provided for the National Research Program in Antarctica. The Research Center is located in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, in an area of interest in the Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany regions and collaborates with research institutions of leading countries in the technological field (such as China, United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, United States), has a park of advanced experimental infrastructures and is open to researchers, scholarship holders, students and PhD students from international research institutions and universities.