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Drone Pilot Credentialing for Air Safety


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Drone operations are estimated to bring €10bn/yr to the EU economy by 2035. A critical e-Government issue is the ability to fly drones in regulated airspace around airports. Unauthorised drone operations in the flightpath of passenger aircraft can endanger lives and cause huge financial loss for airport operators. Heathrow Airport has invested >£10M in security systems to track and destroy unauthorised drones. Digitising the entire drone flight approvals process will involve many steps, but the major one we are addressing is verifying pilot training credentials. SSI could radically improve this currently cumbersome and low-trust process. In an Innovate-UK grant funded project (Fly2Plan), we developed an SSI PoC for a drone pilot training company to issue training certificates as verifiable credentials to drone pilots, which can be verified by Heathrow Airport. In this talk we present our learnings and future work.

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Digital catapult from the United Kingdom. And I'll just tell you a little bit about my company. It's not a marketing speak, but a little bit of context that what we do at digital catapult, because it's not a normal company. The next slide, please. So digital catapult is a, it's a nonprofit organization that basically works across different sectors from government to startups, to corporates. We collaborate with the academia and we also interact with investors to help basically companies SMEs and in the UK to advance technologies to for the benefit. Next slide please. So we work on different technologies from 5g IOT, immersive artificial intelligence, and also I look at self-sovereign identity. Next slide please.
Hi, Kathy. This is Annie. The moderator rudely interrupting your audio is cutting out from time to time. Perhaps you can switch off your video or another quick fix to get a better connection and we'll continue.
Sure. Just let me see if I can get more. Does this help? Hello?
Let's give it a try so far. So good
Spread all across the UK and I'm from the lab that's based out of London. Next slide please. Okay. So the, the, the main thing is about the project that we were doing, where we concluded recently, it's a project called flight to plan four point. It was a 15 month project led by Heathrow. Some of the big players were Heathrow airport and NATS the national head traffic services, and also included Cedar who just presented before me. Next slide, please. And in the flight to plan project, one of the, the project was mainly focusing on cost savings and the companies which are normally siloed. And also one of the aim was to look at drones because the drones, one of the key requirement for the garment is to regulate the airspace. And, and we do have issues with unauthorized drone operators flying in the flight path of airplanes and endangering the lives, the government, especially given that in the UK alone, there gonna be 76,000 drones by 2030 and half a million jobs would be linked to the drone drone usage and how we might be able to eliminate some of this unauthorized drone operations. Next slide please.
So how does, okay, so the, the drone is actually a, quite an useful missionary for the airport simply because drones actually help in identifying debris on the runway. They're also helping help with identifying quality lights on the airport in, in the airport. So airports are very, very much into policing policing their own airspace, and they look for two pieces of information. One is, does this authority and the other is to look whether this person is suitably qualified, which means that this drone operator has something called the C a two certificate of competence, which actually proves that this person is right, rightly trained is correctly trained to operate the strong next slide, please. This is, this is how a typical certificate a two certificate looks like. And here it is been issued on behalf of the civil aviation authority and the drain, the are all paper based. Next slide please.
So this is the process, a two certificate. They basically the drone pilot enrolls himself in a, a, on a training course, and then an a two certificate is issued, which then is then presented to the airport for verification. And then once it's verified, it's, it's, it's the flight plan or the plan for the operation is cleared. Now this is, you might understand that this is still, even though we are in the 21st century, this is happening using paper based credential in data TAA, typical phone problem where theier of the airport literally called the issuer of the cred is on essentially a database. So the problem that we were trying to solve with decentralized ID and in particular self-sovereign ID, next slide piece. So we built a prototype. We built a proof of concept, and that typically uses decentralized ID. And I, I'm not gonna go into explaining self-sovereign identity technology.
I think many of the presenters have explain how this might work, but here we have the issuer, the, the drone training company and the CA have their DDS on a central, on a blockchain based identity register where, and then of course, once they issue their credentials to verify book credentials to the drone pilot, they can be on these drone missions. And of course we have, we eliminate this phone home problem. There's no need to call the issuer self-sovereign identity eliminates that problem because the public keys, cryptographic keys are on the blockchain, and it can any verified book credential can be actually verified without checking with the issuer, going back to the issuer. And it also solves the, the problem where the training provider may go bust. Then we still have the public keys on the identity ledger, and it can be verified. And it also eliminates this need to CA to have their services up and running for any clearances. Since the data is on a decentralized registry, it can be it's more available than a centralized system. And therefore you have the other advantage as well.
Next slide please. So we built our solution based on hyper a. We took the library where the, the demo library, and we made it more modular, the cleaned up the dependency, and we just labeled it as vegetable. It's free for free for y'all to test and use it. And I'm, I'm also happy to send you a link of, to our video of how that the demo works. If any of you are interested, please feel free to get in touch with me after this presentation. Just couple of slides on what we are doing next, next slide, please. So we are actually looking at change credentials. I mean, the change credentials are as, as I alluded when he wants to issued by the training provider, but what we want is whether the certificate is actually issued by CAA because the training provider issues the certificate on behalf of the CAA. So we are actually looking at the chaining of credentials there, ensuring that there are no multiple connections that we need to do, and if we can actually get the verification done from one single source. Next next slide, please.
Next slide please. Sorry. That's the last slide. Anyway, I think anyway, I've, I've run out of time. So the previous slide would've mentioned about, again, verifying another chain credential that is data certificate. How do we actually know that it is from, from the CAA and that is still not clear in our current implementation. And that is what we are trying to work on. Yeah, you can get more details on chain credentials. There's an RFC on the areas repo. You can get more details. So the, this is what we are doing right now, and we've demoed our system with the CAA and training provider and with the Heath airport. And we've got some very good feedback on how we want on, on what we have done so far. And yeah, that's, that's our current work.
Fantastic. Thank you so much coyote for your presentation. Fortunately, the audio made it difficult at some points to follow, but I'd use this to remind the audience that the slides are available or will be shortly available on the app or online. And if anybody.

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