Drones Beyond. 2024

From the IDEA to EVERYDAY - A future operational Day

Grottaglie - March 20-21-22, 2024

Drones Beyond. 2024
From the IDEA to EVERIDAY – A future operational Day
Venue: Grottaglie, Airport “M. Arlotta”
Date: 20-21-22 Marzo, 2024


The objective of the demo sections of the event is to demonstrate normal operational feasibility of air mobility solutions  for logistic services (presently not involving people transportation), aimed on the one hand at presenting mission in the various fields of application  (surveillance, transport, aerial work, etc.) with missions carried out with various platforms and various pay loads, and on the other the possibility of managing a common airspace where missions of platforms of various configurations (fixed wing, rotary wing, tiltrotor) can operate simultaneously, both without and with a pilot on board, with the presence of cooperating systems (with transponder on board and managed in the UTM context) and non-cooperating systems (managed with other identification devices like radar or optical trackers) integrated into a single territorial Control and Coordination Center.

The solutions presented could represent also a basic architecture for distributed operative centers (including mobile ones) that can be integrated into a system of airports and air/heli surfaces, inserted in intermodal solutions of new air mobility (in a future also for people transportation).

Another important scope of the demos is the presentation of missions carried out by both civil and military operators simultaneously, in the same volume of space.


Vertiport     Model

In the airport area, a possible solution of an OPERATIONAL VERTIPORT  is presented in its basic components which can be defined as follows:


operational center for the coordination and management of missions on a defined territory


system for the traceability of cooperating and non-cooperating platforms in the vertiport area


environments for the storage and management of platforms and connected systems


structures for the online storage of platforms and GCS (Ground Control Station)


stands for operators involved in the operational mission


established areas for take-off and landing of rotary-wing systems


runway for take-off/landing of fixed-wing systems with landing gear


grass, dirt areas  for fixed-wing platforms landing without undercarriage


areas for launching fixed-wing systems with catapult support


structure for fire management and rescue


The complete area of ​​the proposed vertiport is approximately 35 hectares (350,000 m2) with sides of  approximately 730 m and 460 m respectively, compatible with the characteristics of many airfields.

Comand & Control Center

The creation of a demonstration project such as the one presented at MAM24 requires compliance with a series of requirements to guarantee the safety, monitoring and coordination of aerial activities. These conditions can be satisfied through the definition of a command, control and communication center which, with the collaboration of ENAV and  D-Flgiht, creates the best conditions for using the airspaceThese needs are satisfied by the architecture created at Grottaglie airport for MAM24.

The room is made up of different workstations, each with the function of communicating different relevant information to guarantee a level of situational awareness appropriate to the activities, in order to provide a centralized infrastructure to monitor, control and coordinate operations. Here are some of its main functions.


Function                                Real-time operation monitoring function

Activities              The command center allows the manager to monitor in real time the position and flight parameters of each UAS involved in the operation.

Function                                Operations communication

Activities              The center serves as a hub for two-way communication between operators and the manager allowing them to send instructions, receive operational data and manage emergency situations.

Function                                Operations safety

Activities              Constant monitoring and centralized control help ensure safe aviation operations.

Function                                Sensor and data integration

Activities              The center collects and integrates data from various sources, such as on-board drone sensors, external radar, cameras and meteorological information, to provide a complete overview of the operational environment.

Function                                UAV Detection and Identification

Activities              The system implements advanced detection systems to detect both cooperative and non-cooperative drones in the airspace managed by the operations center.

See the gallery of Drones Beyond, click here.

BARI OPEN INNOVATION HUB is a project led by the Municipality of Bari presented in response to the notice of the Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) – based on resources from the Development and Cohesion Fund – for the realization of “Houses of Emerging Technologies”. These places are the core of technological transfer, aimed at supporting research, experimentation projects, the creation of start-ups, and the technology transfer to SMEs on issues relating to the use of the Blockchain, IoT and Artificial Intelligence. The objective of the ‘Bari Open Innovation Hub’ project is to create an innovation hub in the metropolitan city of Bari to test new technologies and operational protocols.


Through the use of 5G, as an enabling technology, AI, next-generation IoT and drones, the topic of autonomous and semi-autonomous driving has gained particular relevance.


The project proposal is characterized by the presence of an extremely qualified public-private partnership able to ensure the necessary skills to carry out research activities (University of Bari, Free Mediterranean University, National Research Council) and technology transfer to companies (District Aerospace Technology and MEDITECH). Furthermore, the project aims the creation of experiments and prototypes (TIM, Exprivia, AMT Services), the definition of operational protocols and national and international standards (ENAC) and the maximum dissemination and replicability of results (ANCI, ARTI). Drones Beyond 2022 is a technology transfer, communication and territorial animation initiative proposed by the DTA, to demonstrate the potential and benefits for the community of innovative solutions and services that will be tested in the ‘House of Emerging Technologies’ thanks to the Bari Open Innovation Hub project.


To Find out more, click here.


Drones Beyond. 2023
Unfolding Innovative Aerial Services in the Smart City
Venue: Bari
Date: October 25-26, 2023



The modern global landscape is facing a series of challenges of unprecedented scope and complexity: climate change, population growth and urbanization, the current geopolitical situation. At the same time, pervasive connectivity and the diffusion of 5G networks, associated with the diffusion of Internet of Things technologies and Artificial Intelligence, make smart cities increasingly digital and allow for the development of integration between technological, virtual and real systems. Digital twin systems appear extremely promising in the field of innovative mobility. The aerospace world is called to play a key role in the transition towards a more sustainable future, proposing innovative solutions.
In particular, the development of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), commonly called “drones”, represents one of the key points of this futuristic vision.

In particular, the development of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), commonly called “drones”, represents one of the key points of this futuristic vision.
Drones allow the creation of new missions and services in increasingly broader scenarios, both civil and defence, urban and suburban, and are used in various industrial sectors, such as agriculture, construction, surveillance, health, energy, the environment, public safety and more. Drones are also users of space services for navigation (GNSS), land observation (earth observation) and communications.
The use of drones for monitoring and inspections is the subject of numerous specific applications and industrial developments. In the transport and logistics sector, the use of drones for deliveries has already been tested in many countries, and the first pilot trials in passenger transport are expected within the next few years.
The European Union is committed to promoting the development of new technologies and to the creation of a drone market that can bring not only innovative services, but also create new skills, consolidate strategic capabilities and, ultimately, contribute to the social and economic growth of the union.

In this direction lies the Drone Strategy 2.0, published by the European Commission at the end of November 2022, which relaunches the development of the world of drones and identifies a series of flagship actions which direct the next steps to follow: from the development of technologies and services, the need to formulate more up-to-date legislation, the certification of systems to enable the provision of new services, airspace management and enabling services, and the need for a European network of infrastructures for experimentation.
Puglia has the opportunity to become an important player in this development path. The regional aerospace sector, which includes more than 100 public and private organizations, with a turnover of 1.5 billion euros and an export of more than 340 million euros (2021 data), is characterized by being a highly integrated, collaborative system devoted to internationalisation, with numerous industrial and scientific partnerships on a global scale. The presence of UAS testing infrastructure and related services (in the Grottaglie Airport Test Bed), even if under development, is a significant factor in accelerating the development for the entire regional, national and European ecosystem.


The Drones Beyond 2023 – Unfolding Innovative Aerial services initiative takes place in this context. The event is to be held from 25 to 26 of October 2023, at the ‘Fiera del Levante’ district in Bari, organized by the Aerospace Technological District (DTA) and the Municipality of Bari. The Drones Beyond 2023 initiative is an action of the ‘House of Emerging Technologies of Bari – Bari Open Innovation Hub’ project.
The first edition of Drones Beyond (Drones Beyond, 2021 Operations), designed and built by the DTA within the Mediterranean Aerospace Matching (MAM) initiative, presented the Grottaglie airport and its operational environment, as well as technologies and solutions in the field of Advanced Air Mobility and Innovative Aerial Services, through demonstrating air operations using unmanned aircrafts.

In November 2022, the second edition of Drones Beyond took place, entitled “Urban Air Mobility: evolution and perspectives”, organized by the DTA and the Municipality of Bari. This initiative stood out as the largest event ever held in Europe in the environmental urban in terms of the amount and diversity of air operations demonstration carried out with drones. Drones Beyond 2022 was also the event that launched the ‘Bari Urban Drone Range’, the urban operational node of the Grottaglie Airport Test Bed. The Bari Urban Drone Range was created in the ‘Fiera del Levante’ district of Bari, with the construction of a control room for the surveillance of aerial operations and an experimental area for the take-off and landing of drones (dronepad). Both executed by the DTA.
On these bases, the 2023 edition of Drones Beyond will be dedicated to understanding the capabilities of UAS to create services and develop new, more efficient value chains capable of developing smart cities. Drones Beyond 2023 aims to repeat the success of the previous sessions, consolidating the image of the Apulian aerospace system at national and European level, showing new perspectives in the field of unmanned aircraft and Innovative Aerial Services, and qualifying the Grottaglie Airport Test Bed with its Bari Urban Drone Range component, as a technological pillar for the development and testing of UAS, innovative air services (IAS) and integrated technological solutions.


The initiative aims to be part of the European events in the field of unmanned aircrafts, related technologies and enabling services and air services. Drones Beyond is a powerful space for comparing between institutions, the research ecosystem, the aerospace industrial ecosystem, the training ecosystem and, above all, users and integrators of innovative air services, in order to share a vision of future business models in which UAS and related technologies and solutions are a key factor.
The DB23 will therefore bring together the demand and supply of new technologies but also reflection and stimulus on scientific trajectories and their challenges, on the effects on training needs, and on the necessary awareness and involvement of institutions and entities at all levels.

In detail, the initiative aims to:

  • Gather key industry representatives to discuss the strategic, technological, and regulatory evolution of cutting-edge aerospace segments, examining the reflections in the business models and value chains connecting technological offering and the demand for innovation;
  • Demonstrate concrete operational experiences, innovative services and the level of maturity achieved.
  • Connect innovative startups and SMEs with key European players in the sector.
  • Promote the experimental capabilities of the ‘Bari Urban Drone Range’, urban node of the Grottaglie Airport Test Bed, within the European network of research and experimentation sites;
  • Attract students and young entrepreneurs to the UAS industrial sector, highlighting the potential for development in terms of training, employment and business;
  • Contribute to the process of accepting the use of these innovative technologies, showing their potential and usefulness for the community and citizens.

The main themes that will be addressed during the event are:

  • Technologies that enable drones to fly and provide complementary services, including satellite technologies (Earth Observation, GNSS, SATCOM);
  • Air traffic and navigation management functional to safely integrate drone operations (U-space, ATM/UTM integration, creation of flight corridors for drones).
  • The importance of developing test and demonstration sites for UAS and for solutions and services, with drones that can accompany the development phases, from prototyping to deployment in an operational environment, also including the regulatory tools to facilitate experimentation.
  • The development of the infrastructures of the vertiports and their methods of operation;
  • The innovative air services enabled by drone air operations (precision farming, surveillance, inspections, surveying, telecommunications support, aerial work…);
  • Innovative air mobility (urban and regional).

Drones Beyond 2023, starting from the results achieved in the previous editions, intends to consolidate the scope of the initiative both to UAS technologies and to innovative air services, favoring the development of new business models that include aerospace technologies. The protagonist will be the city of Bari which, with the ‘Bari Urban Drone Range’ operated by the DTA, in conjunction with the Grottaglie Airport Test Bed research and experimentation infrastructure, consolidates an aggregation center of an ecosystem dedicated to the interconnected development of new Innovative Aerial Services for smart cities and more.

This edition will focus on the role of drones in the value chain. The leitmotif will be the understanding of the applicability of drones in different operational sectors and as a tool for public administration, and the value they are able to deliver in new value chains, with the idea that technological innovation must be aimed at improving the quality of life of society.

Drones Beyond 2023 will favor industrial development by creating the environment to a large audience of experts and potential users to learn about the state of the art echnological developments and perspectives, and to appreciate them with live and recorded operational demonstrations. The system architectures that can enable land observation, aerial work and mobility services for public and private applications will be presented. Airspace management, U-space services, is an integral part of the demonstration sessions. The demonstrations will highlight the complexity, effectiveness and potential of results delivered to the user, yet the aspects related to operations and regulations will not be neglected. All this contributes to the broader national and European debate which has been increasingly lively in recent years.


The DB23 foresees the carrying out of a series of educational activities focused on technological innovation, with particular attention to the technology of unmanned aircraft and STEM disciplines, with the aim of stimulating the creativity and curiosity of young people and students, and promoting their active engagement in building their future and the society in which they live in. Among these, following the large participation recorded in the first edition, the “DB racing” will be revived – an FPV drone race open to lower and lower secondary schools and universities.

Finally, there will also be moments of exchanging ideas with the ESA BIC Brindisi team, an incubation center for startups and companies that provides selected startups with support for the development of innovative products and services in the space sector. It will be a unique opportunity for young entrepreneurs to develop innovative ideas and cutting-edge technologies, with the prospect of generating future business opportunities.


Drones Beyond 2023 will take place in the ‘Fiera del Levante’ district, in the base area of the ‘Bari Urban Drone Range’. Bari is one of the 5 cities participating in the implementation of the Strategic Plan for ‘Advanced Air Mobility’, prepared by ENAC in 2021. The ‘Fiera del Levante’ district hosts an area equipped to test innovative air service solutions and innovative terrestrial and area, the primary reference area of the ‘Casa delle Tecnologie Emergenti’ project in Bari. The DTA has equipped the area with a control room that monitors the aerial operations of drones through various tools and also hosts prototype applications.

The Bari Urban Drone Range is an infrastructural component of the Grottaglie Airport Test Bed: if the airport enables to test flight capabilities of aerial platforms (UAS) and to fine-tune the air-ground communication systems as well as to integrate the UAS in U-space, the Bari Urban Drone Range is the place to experience innovative aerial services by operating in a real and lively smart city environment. The Bari Urban Drone Range aims to act both as a training ground for dealing with all the operational and logistic aspects for the implementation of environmental and territorial monitoring services and logistics, and as a basis for the provision, in the short future, of services for the Bari metropolitan area.

Drones Beyond provides the perfect context to demonstrating the ability to operate drones in urban areas while creating and spreading awareness of the infrastructural and dynamic conditions of a smart city in which operations and mobility in urban areas will soon be a concrete reality.

Various ongoing initiatives, coordinated by DTA, intend to develop standardized operating methods, technologies and enabling solutions (including UTM services) for the implementation of territorial monitoring services which will further develop the transformation of Bari into a smart city, as well as emergency transport services between and in the different areas of the city.

Rationale document


Gallery 2022


Initiative organized by:

Under the patronage of:

With the support of:

Participating as partners of the “Bari Open Innovation Hub” project:


TIM, Exprivia, AMT Services

Participating as partners in the Education activities:

Ufficio Scolastico Regionale per la Puglia;

Participating as service providers and UAS operators:

ENAV, D-flight e

DroneBase, Nimbus, TopView

Drones Beyond 2022 is an initiative implemented as part of the “Bari Open Innovation Hub” project, funded by the Ministry of Economic Development and the Development and Cohesion Fund with the “House of Emerging Technologies” call.

See the two days of Drones Beyond, click here.

See the gallery of Drones Beyond, click here.

See the two days of Drones Beyond, click here.

See the gallery of Drones Beyond, click here.