BENIDORM – Benidorm, the popular tourist city on the Costa Blanca, has distinguished itself as the first city in Europe to test drone technology on a large scale in an urban environment.
Levante beach was the scene of this impressive demonstration, part of the European project U-ELCOME. A total of 27 drones simultaneously flew over the city, which is also called Beni-York due to its unique vertical urban planning. The high concentration of skyscrapers in Benidorm makes navigating with drones more complex, making the city an ideal test location. Benidorm also offers a varied environment with mountainous areas and open spaces such as the beaches.
Goals of drone test
The U-ELCOME project, a collaboration between the public and private sectors, aims to integrate and validate the first U-Space services in Europe. This initiative is aimed at organising and managing the airspace for drones. Israel Quintanilla, professor at the Universitat Politènica de València (UPV), emphasises in 20Minutos the importance of coordination between the drones for safe and synchronised flights.
European harmonisation and safety
Daniel García-Monteavaro, Head of the Business Development Department of UAS at ENAIRE, points out the harmonisation within Europe that this project aims to achieve. “Spain is the only country that implements projects on different platforms simultaneously,” he adds. Mayor Toni Pérez of Benidorm sees the drone test as a step towards the future, where drones can be used for goods transport, emergency aid, first aid operations and inspection purposes.
Benidorm as a testing ground for drone use
Benidorm is no stranger when it comes to drone experiments. The foundations for the current Aviation Unit of the Local Police were already laid in 2016. At the beginning of 2020, the urban environment of Avenida de Bélgica was used for Vodafone 5G flights, which served as a model for the Delorean project flights in 2021 and 2022. The SONORA project drone flights were also tested in the city last week.