Cummins: A Breakthrough in Drone Research

Cummins. An air taxi over the city replaces airplanes? Huge drones bringing goods to customers? Soon this was no longer a fantasy. When the kids in the 1970s were asked to paint how they envisioned a future 50 years from now, things might have looked a little different from what would take off soon from Cummins Airport. But research on such flying objects will be done here in the future. The AEF Center is located at the airport.

Intensive preparations have continued over the past eighteen months for the innovative project, which is unique to Lusatia and beyond. Lunchtime Monday was a good time for another milestone on this path: a symbolic ceremony was held to lay the groundwork for a new barn in perfect weather. Or better: over the old runway of the former military airport.

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International partners bring their competencies together

A new hall of 1,500 square meters will be built by autumn, where research and development will be possible under the best possible conditions. Many representatives of politics, business and science came to symbolic action. Accordingly, the small mound for the groundbreaking ceremony was densely enclosed.

Lots of Celebrities for a Little Earth: Actors from politics, business and science at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new hangar being built at Cummins Airport.

Lots of Celebrities for a Little Earth: Actors from politics, business and science at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new hangar being built at Cummins Airport. © Matthias Schumann

The Minister of State for Regional Development of Saxony, Thomas Schmidt (CDU), also took the opportunity to attend the forward-looking conference. After all, a network of international partners is currently pooling their expertise in electric motors and hybrids in Leissingstadt. In addition to the city of Cummins, this also includes Fraunhofer institutes, universities and more than 20 companies of various industries as well as partners from Thuringia, Brandenburg, France, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Will the parcels arrive by drone in the future?

Professor Dr. said. Johannes Markmiller of the Aerospace Institute at TU Dresden, who was communicating with the guests via video chat. Thanks to the desire to search for only brave individuals, everything moves forward. Of course, autonomous flying is no longer within reach of many people, and it is sometimes viewed with skepticism.

Germany’s gap in drone technology compared to leading countries like the USA, Israel or China in the military and civilian sectors is huge. While Amazon is already testing drone parcel shipping in the US, for example, this is not even expected in Germany – also due to several regulations.

More than 200 jobs can be created

This is where AEF wants to start in the next few years. The fact that the subject of autonomous flight moves a lot can also be noticed in the great interest that has been around since the Cummins Project became known. “We receive applications from young people every week, even though we haven’t even posted jobs,” says Thomas Ernstberger of AEF.

If all goes according to plan, the company expects to create more than 200 jobs by 2030/35. This will be of great importance, especially in the structurally weak Lausitz region.

The city of Cummins is investing more than a million

In light of these prospects, the city of Cummins will also invest more than 1 million euros in its airport in 2021, which was built 30 years earlier than the former military airport. Above all, the costs of developing a new runway are included. “Six different companies want to settle here as quickly as possible,” says Mayor Roland Dantz (not partisan). Joy in it is great. “So we couldn’t be completely wrong 30 years ago! Setting up a large research center now is so much fun.”

With 16,000 flight movements per year, Kamenz is one of the well-performing airports in the region. There are quite a few of them. Tying them together will now be important, too. State Secretary Thomas Schmidt praised the excellent conditions at the site. “We have to better combine the skills that are found in Saxony,” he says. “This is a good day for Cummins,” says District Director Michael Harrig (CDU). “And a good day for the district!”

When it comes to Cummins’ UAV research, what matters is not only the unmanned aerial vehicle itself, but also the associated ground infrastructure and data communications between components. This will be followed by building a real laboratory and turning the tower into a center for seminars and innovation. Drone software is already being written on site. The topic of 5G technology plays a major role in this context. Strong industrial partners have also expressed an interest in the research.

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Cummins: It's happening at the airport

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