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Drones: Applications and New Business Models

Postgraduate course. Face-to-face.


UPC School

This postgraduate course can be attended as part of the master's degree Engineering Drones.

A drone is a remotely piloted aircraft carrying the equipment needed to perform tasks commonly referred to as 3D (Dull, Dirty and Dangerous).

Although drones were originally almost exclusively use for military purposes, the technology has matured and costs have fallen, which has led to the creation of reliable solutions for both the aircraft itself, its flight control and navigation, communications, control stations and the various sensors. The maturing of this technology is leading to the development of a wide and varied range of civilian applications, such as monitoring infrastructure, fire prevention, monitoring of livestock farms, as well as film and photographic reports, among others. These are just some of the applications that are currently being developed, but it is easy to imagine that the coming years will see a genuine explosion of drone applications, in the same way as the promising beginnings of the Internet heralded an explosion of applications that eventually far exceeded any of those forecasts.

In the next three years, the market for drones worldwide is expected to exceed 8,000 billion euros, with annual growth rates exceeding 20%. Meanwhile, the EU is already taking steps to facilitate their development, such as harmonising the laws of the various countries to make it is possible to fly drones in controlled airspace and promoting R+D programmes in order to develop the necessary technologies.

This emerging market needs professionals specialising in the design and development of platforms for drones and in the advanced piloting of these devices.

However, the basic challenge is to train people capable of imagining applications for drones, choosing the most suitable platforms for those applications, integrating the equipment necessary for the mission (sensors, cameras, etc.) onto the platforms, developing all the additional components required (hardware and software) for this integration and finally, turning this application into a viable and profitable business.

This training necessarily entails the prior acquisition of a solid knowledge base, covering:

* The types of aircraft used as drones.
* The type of equipment usually carried in the drone system, depending on the type of mission.
* The tools used to plan and manage missions.
* The legislation currently affecting the operation of drones and the foreseeable legislative changes.
* Examples of current real applications.


To provide a solid foundation of knowledge that enables professionals in the field of science and technology to enter the drone area systems and applications business sector, and to design and plan drone missions in detail.

Who is it for

Professionals with a university scientific-technical education, who are interested in the analysis and design of drone missions, and people who already have a drone pilot license, who wish to broaden their studies of the various types of aircraft, their specifications and airworthiness, as well as studying the use of advanced control and remote steering systems to operate them safely, and to be able to cope with emergencies or unexpected situations. The class timetables of the courses will be designed to make the postgraduate course compatible with full-time employment.



The Aircraft
3 ECTS. 27 teaching hours.

The central item in the drone-based system is the aircraft itself. This subject will study the different types of aircraft, their features, power systems, propulsion, actuators, automatic pilots, etc.

The subject provides the basic criteria for selecting the appropriate aircraft depending on the mission.

a. Aerodynamics and mechanics of flight.
b. Unmanned aircraft: fixed wing, helicopter, quadrirotor. Performances. Applications and limitations.
c. Energy and energy management systems in RPAS.
d. Autopilot. Stabilisation, control and guidance systems.
e. Remote control and telemetry systems for aircraft.

The Payload
3 ECTS. 27 teaching hours.

In a drone system, the purpose of the aircraft is to transport the payload, which consists of the equipment necessary to carry out the mission, such as cameras for imaging or equipment for geo-referencing objects.

This subject will look at the different types of sensors required for the most common tasks, and consider the necessary criteria to select and correctly integrate sensors that make up the payload into the aircraft.

Mission Planning and Control
3 ECTS. 27 teaching hours.

In addition to the aircraft and payload, there are other essential elements in a drone system. In specific terms, the workstation is the subsystem which the pilot uses to steer the aircraft, and which transmits information and receives data from the mission. This course shows how the mission is planned from the ground station.

Moreover, all the subsystems in the drone system must operate in a coordinated manner, which requires middleware or another type of subsystem to facilitate the mission's automation and efficiency.

This subjects will also look at various architectures for performing mission management tasks.

Airspace: Structure, Applicable Regulations
3 ECTS. 27 teaching hours.

Today, the use of drones in Spain is governed by
regulations which we need to be aware of despite expected changes in the near
future. Moreover, it is also advisable to know the rules that are being applied in other countries inside and outside the EU, as well as the implementation of regulations by the EU to standardise the laws of the different countries, making it easier to develop transnational applications and facilitating the orderly and rapid development of the sector.

a. Regulatory institution and agencies for air traffic.
b. International, European and Spanish law on drones.
c. Aviation safety: security and safety.
d. Organisation, structure and management of airspace.
e. Airport infrastructure: classification and characteristics. Aeronautical constraints.

Applications and New Business Models
3 ECTS. 27 teaching hours.

The purpose of a drone system is obviously to carry out a mission. This is precisely the area in which an explosion in activity is anticipated, because opportunities for the application of drones (many of which are surprising, ingenious and creative) are today extremely numerous. In all likelihood, the coming years will see many more that are difficult to imagine today.

This subject will review various existing applications. It will be organised based on talks given by experts on each of the applications (environmental protection, fire prevention, forest management, monitoring of infrastructure supervision, audiovisual reports, etc.).

a. Market and business opportunities for RPAS systems.
b. Mission analysis and design by areas of activity:
i. Environmental protection (fire prevention, forest management, control of aquifers, control of waste and pollutants, pest control, etc.)
ii. Emergencies (fires, rescues and salvage, floods, landslides, etc.)
iii. Inspection of infrastructures (high and medium voltage lines, viaducts, tunnels, railways, various pipes, reservoirs, dams, etc.).
iv. Building (inspection of buildings, roofs, erecting from plans, etc)
v. Photogrammetry.
vi. Agriculture (remote sensing, crop analysis, precision agriculture, etc.)
vii. Videography (film, sports, documentary, cultural  reports, etc.)

Management & Faculty

Academic management

  • Valero García, Miguel
    Professor, Department of Computer Architecture of the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC). He has been head of Studies of the Barcelona School of Informatics, deputy director of the Institute of Education Sciences and director of the School of Telecommunications and Aerospace Engineering of Castelldefels (EETAC). Collaborates regularly with national agencies for accreditation processes of university quality. He has authored numerous articles on teaching innovation and gives frequent workshops on the use of active and cooperative learning and project-based learning.

Academic coordination

  • Royo Chic, Pablo
    Telecommunications Engineer from the School of Telecommunications and Aerospace Engineering of Castelldefels (EETAC), which belogs to the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC). He received his Ph.D in Computer Architecture from the same university. Has been working with UPC since 2006 and currently, he is a lecturer at the EETAC. His research interests include the integration of UAS in non-segregated airspace and the automation of processes in civil aviation. Moreover, he is leading the system architectute branch in several UAS related projects.

Teaching staff

  • Casas Pedrafita, Jaime Óscar
    PhD in Telecommunications Engineering from the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC)., is currently Professor in the Department of Electronic Engineering, teaches courses in analog electronics, instrumentation and sensor systems in the School of Telecommunications and Aerospace Engineering of Castelldefels (EETAC) and in the Barcelona School of Telecommunications Engineering ( ETSETB) since 1994.
  • Pérez Batlle, Marc
    Is a researcher and part-time professor of the departament of Physics. He joined the ICARUS research group at UPC in 2008 as an Aerospace and Telecommunication Engineer. His research interests are focused on the smooth Integration of Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in non-segregated civil airspace especially from the separation provision and Flight efficiency perspective. In 2014 he earned the SESAR's Young Scientist Award that recognized his innovative contribution to ATM research.
  • Prats i Menéndez, Xavier
    Aeronautical Engineer from the National School of Civil Aviation (École Nationale de l'Aviation Civile, ENAC) located in Toulouse. He also holds a degree in Telecommunications Engineering from the Barcelona School of Telecommunications Engineering of the UPC. Ph.D in Aerospace Science and Technology (UPC). Cofounder of the ICARUS research group and he is currently leading the Air Transportation research activities within it. Member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), member of the Airline Group of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies (AGIFORS) and a member of the Catalan Telecommunication Engineers professional society (COETC).
  • Rojas Gregorio, Josep Ignasi
    Aeronautical Engineer from the Technical University of Madrid (UPM). After a short period as a trainee at the DDSNA of AENA in 2004, he became assistant professor at the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC). His doctoral thesis was on viscoelastic properties of aluminium alloys. He has also participated in research and development projects in aerodynamics at EETAC (for instance, he has actively collaborated in the design of a panoramic vertical wind tunnel for leisure and skydiving training purposes, and in a project related to competition cars) and in applications of space- and ground-based technologies for the improvement of earthquake disaster management, during a stage at Beihang University, in Beijing, China, in 2007. In 2009, he worked at the Air Transport Section of the United Nations, in New York, USA, in a project related to heliport certification for Peace Keeping Missions in Africa.
  • Ruiz Boqué, Silvia
    PhD in Telecommunications Engineering, professor of the Signal Theory and Communications Department of the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC). Deputy Director of External Relations at the School of Telecommunications and Aerospace Engineering of Castelldefels (EETAC). Head of the research group WiComTec. Spanish Delegate in COST IC1004 (2011-15) and COST CA15104 IRACON (2016-20). Head of WG3 Radio networks at both COST Actions.
  • Salamí San Juan, Esther
    Telecommunications Engineer by the Barcelona School of Telecommunications Engineering (ETSETB) of Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) and PhD in Computer Architecture from the same university. He is currently Associate Professor of the School of Telecommunications and Aerospace Engineering of Castelldefels (EETAC) and belongs to the research group Intelligent Communications and Avionics for Robust Unmanned Aerial Systems (ICARUS).
  • Vidal Ferré, Rafael
    Telecommunications Engineer by the Barcelona School of Telecommunications Engineering (ETSETB) of Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) and PhD in Telematics Engineering. Professor of the Department of Telematics Engineering at UPC. Belongs to the research group in Wireless Networks. Teaches in degrees (Telecommunications and Informatics) and masters (Automatic Systems and Industrial Electronics and enabling technologies for the food industry and Bioprocesses).

General information

15 ECTS (135 teaching hours)
Start date
Start date:01/02/2017End date:30/07/2017
Tuesday  18:00 to 21:30Thursday  18:00 to 21:30
Taught at
EETAC - Escola d'Enginyeria de Telecomunicació i Aeroespacial de Castelldefels
Campus del Baix Llobregat - Edifici C4. C
Esteve Terradas, 7
Telephone: (34) 93 112 08 83
Postgraduate diplomas issued by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. To obtain this degree it is necessary to have an official or recognized university degree equivalent to a bachelor's degree or diploma. Otherwise, the Fundació Politècnica de Catalunya will only award them a a certificate of completion.

In the case of having a foreign degree check here.
Virtual Campus
The students on this Postgraduate course will have access to the My_Tech_Space virtual campus, an effective work and communication platform for students, lecturers and course directors and coordinators. My_Tech_Space allows students to find background material for their classes, to work in teams, ask their lecturers questions, consult their marks, etc.
Employment service
Students can access job offers in their field of specialisation on the My_Tech_Space virtual campus. Applications made from this site will be treated confidentially. Hundreds of offers appear annually of the UPC School of Professional & Executive Development Employment service .The offers range from formal contracts to work placement agreements.
Registration fee
2.500 €
The registration fee must be paid before the beginning of this Postgraduate course.
See the section Discounts, loans and financial aid for possibilities of advantageous financing conditions.

Applicants are given the option of making a voluntary €5 contribution when formalising their enrolment. As part of the UPC's 0.7% Campaign, this donation will go towards meeting charitable needs in developing countries.


Language of instruction
Payment of enrolment fee
The enrolment fee can be paid:
- In a single payment to be paid within the deadline specified in the letter of admission to the programme
- In two instalments:
  • 60% of the amount payable, to be paid within the deadline specified in the letter of admission to the programme
  • Remaining 40% to be paid up 10 days before the starting date of the programme

Related entities

Supported by

  • Escola d'Enginyeria de Telecomunicació i Aeroespacial de Castelldefels