Unicef Innovation Fund

Open-source based UTM for low-connectivity environments for supporting drone delivery and emergency response

The client

The Innovation Fund made investments in open source solutions that have the potential to improve the lives of children. Unicef Innovation work with local offices of Sierra Leone, Kazakhstan, Malawi and Vanuatu to establish and manage drone test corridors for the development and testing of drones for aerial imagery and transportation

The challenge

Unicef Innovation challenge us to build an Open Source Based Unmanned Traffic Management System (UTM ) to support drone operations for humanitarian purposes like mapping of flooded areas, search and rescue and transportation of critical medical supplies. The system has to have the capability of being deployed in a personal computer a low connectivity environments, and bring support to critical communications between drones, groundstations and the UTM.

Our approach

We followed NASA UAS Service Supplier Specification to build the core features and interfaces for the UTM, and create ground stations for DJI and Pixhawk users in addition to other generic interfaces for integrating different kind drones. We bring support to the deployment in low connectivity scenarios using LoRa mesh communications between nodes (UTM, Ground stations and Drones). Finally, we build groups between operators, civil aviation authorities(CAA), and our developers for smooth integration with all actors.


The system is under testing and refining in Uruguay for commercial drone operations in cooperation with local CAA and being implemented in Unicef Innovation drone corridors of Sierra Leone and Kazakhstan. The source code is available in GitHub