2015-07-Bachelor assignment: Twente as focus area for drones

Bachelor assignment: the development of the East Netherlands as a focus area for drones


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) or ‘drones’ are becoming ever more popular. They are used for surveillance, for inspecting crops and pipelines, for locating missing people etc. But drones are only at the start of their development cycle. In Twente, new applications are being developed, like long-distance cargo transport. The University of Twente and East Netherlands Development Agency Oost NV have the ambition to turn the region of the East Netherlands into a focus area for the development, production, operation and support of drones. For this, it is necessary to assess the technologies which will drive the development of drones in the coming years, and to identify the companies that would be able and willing to contribute to the development of these technologies. That is what this Bachelor assignment is about.

The assignment

Identity technologies that could be developed in the East Netherlands to develop the region into a focus area for drones, and the organizations that could contribute to this development.


1: Assess the ‘state of the art’ in drone development and operation.

2: Identify future trends.

Two examples:

1.the development of drones for Bird Control at airports.

2.The use of drones for imaging and analysis for precision agriculture.

3: Identify a number of technologies that drive the future development of drones.

An example is: the need for drones to fly autonomously. The controller does not pilot the plane, but merely tells the drone what it needs to do, and then the drone executes its task by itself.

4: Choose, together with the principal, a limited number of technologies that, if developed in the East Netherlands, could turn the region onto a focus area for drones.

5: Perform a basic SWOT analysis of the region.

6: Identify organizations in the East Netherlands that could be enlisted to either participate in the development of the ‘drone capabilities’ of the region or may benefit as (technology/system/part) suppliers, and define their potential contributions.

Please note that the word ‘drone’ is often associated with small aircraft )often hand-launched) that are controlled by the pilot by following the UAV visually and using a joystick to operate the control surfaces. This is called ‘line-of-sight’ operations. However, this assignment also concerns large UAV’s (the size of a ‘real’ aircraft), that can be controlled by computer from thousands of kilometers away (beyond line of sight).

Background information

There are already several initiatives in the region concerning drones. For example, at Wageningen University, expertise about the use of drones for agricultural tasks like crop monitoring and spraying, photography etc. is being developed. The Platform Unmanned Cargo Aircraft aims to stimulate the development and operation of unmanned cargo aircraft (UCA). The department of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics & Information Science is working on control systems for UAV’s. The Twente Safety Campus is investigating the use of drones for use by the police and fire brigades. Several organizations are working on establishing a test and training center for drones at Twente Airport, a disused Air Force base.

In the region, there are various companies that could contribute to developing drone technologies, like Thales (electronics) and Ten Cate (materials).

So, there are many actors in the region that are, or could be, involved with drones. But it is unclear who all the actors are, what their ambitions are in the field of drones, and what they can, and want to, contribute to the development of the region into a focus area for drones. It is clear, however, that the region can only compete both nationally and internationally if the efforts of the various players are identified and coordinated. This Bachelor assignment should identify these players. One of the possible actions on the basis of the results of this assignment could be a seminar for the regional industry as a start for co-operation and development of a regional drone industry approach.

Your background

Study: Industrial Engineering, Business Administration, Economics, etc. Affiliation with aviation is necessary (i.e. having attended the Minor Aerospace Engineering of the University of Twente). A combination of analytical prowess and creativity is required, plus the desire to operate in a field where few have gone before.


Duration: 4-9 months

Location: ……

Start date: ASAP


Dr. Hans Heerkens

Faculty BMS

University of Twente

E: j.m.g.heerkens@utwente.nl