HES-SO has been awarded her first BRIDGE Grant as project leader. The goal is to create real environments in which to test and certify drone safety. Our laboratory will be working with Prof Petros Koumoutsakos from ETHZ, who pioneered Machine Learning in fluid mechanics, and the EPFL School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

BRIDGE is a joint programme conducted by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and Innosuisse – the Swiss Innovation Agency. It offers new funding opportunities at the intersection of basic research and science-based innovation, thereby supplementing the funding activities of the two organisations.The Discovery funding opportunity is open to researchers submitting project based on a technological innovation with a strong societal or economic impact.

The objective of the project is the development of “intelligent” test environments, based on digital or pixelated wind facilities, invented by our lab and a former assistant Guillaume Catry, now CEO of a HES-SO startup WindShape, co-founded by many HES students.

The project will use the skills of Professor Petros Koumoutsakos at the ETHZ, pioneer of “machine learning” methods in fluid mechanics in the 1990s. His algorithms will make it possible to “teach” the wind tunnel to faithfully reproduce the environmental wind conditions, which will be collected by the Faculty of Natural, Architectural, and Built Environment (ENAC) of EPFL.

In the coming years, the tool will benefit the environmental sciences, but will also enable a new era in aeronautics and air mobility. This wind facility with a brain will test, develop, and certify all drones on the planet. A collaboration is already in place with the drone certification center in New York State, NUAIR Alliance. The three largest delivery companies in the world have established working contacts. Discussions are underway with the two major aircraft manufacturers.

In parallel, Professor Noca is coordinating, on behalf of the HES-SO, a major European project on the safety and sustainability of urban air mobility, with all the major aeronautical players on the continent and a large number of European cities.