Telecommunications giant BT and leading UTM solutions provider Altitude Angel will lead a consortium to develop a UK drone corridor.
“BT made a significant leap into the commercial drone market today when it partnered with Altitude Angel to announce the formation of a new consortium to deliver a range of industry use cases across the UK’s first commercial drone corridor,” says an Altitude Angel press release.
BT, Altitude Angel and several technology start-ups have been selected by UK Research and Innovation to work together on Project XCelerate – a future aerial drone project that will establish new use cases for a UK drone corridor south of Reading, Berkshire.
A “highway in heaven”
In the summer of 2021, the project will carry out flight tests along the 8 km long British drone corridor to demonstrate the safe integration of drones and manned aircraft. “The consortium will demonstrate key industry use cases in healthcare, emergency services and infrastructure to illustrate how drone deliveries and inspections can bring myriad benefits to businesses, the public sector and UK citizens,” said Altitude Angel.
“With Project Xcelerate we are bringing together our world-leading UTM technology, combining it with BT’s extensive network communications experience and applying it to the Arrow Drone Zone in Thames Valley west of London,” said Richard Parker, Altitude Angel CEO and Founder. “The project will show how the current blockers for regular, highly automated drone flights – especially the ability to fly BVLOS safely and safely in unregulated or open airspaces – can be overcome. Once this has been proven, we can set up other corridors, for example between two hospitals with supplementary laboratory and research facilities, or connect local airports with other travel infrastructure to create transport hubs. Eventually we will be able to connect these corridors and create a super highway network in the sky. “
BT is demonstrating its technology and know-how as part of the UK drone corridor project. Gerry McQuade, CEO of BT’s enterprise unit, said: “As the number of drones continues to grow, there is an urgent need to safely integrate commercial drones into global airspace alongside manned aviation. We want to show how drones can provide improved, potentially life-saving services to the public and we want to accelerate the introduction of fully automated drones into unrestricted UK airspace in a safe and responsible manner. “
“From improved mobility, connectivity, health and manufacturing performance to less traffic jams and pollution, automated drone technology will change the quality of life. BT’s role in the consortium is to bring together world-leading drone expertise and provide the secure and resilient connectivity of mobile networks as well as our drone detection services. The performance of EE’s 4G and 5G networks will ensure commercial drones stay connected for better situational awareness, accurate positioning and collision avoidance – and ensure they can operate safely and responsibly across the UK skies. “
Emergency services, infrastructure inspections
“One of the most important use cases being investigated by the consortium is the use of drones to support emergency services, for example in road traffic accidents and search and rescue operations,” says Altitude Angel. “With the help of 3D mapping techniques, drones can be used for forensic purposes to help police respond to road accidents and to locate missing persons during search and rescue operations. The XCelerate project will demonstrate how drone technology can be used to shorten response times to such incidents, help emergency services improve chances of survival, and at the same time reduce costs. “
The UK drone corridor project will also demonstrate “how automated drones can reduce lead times for much-needed medical supplies and help the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors improve standards of patient care. Another use case is key infrastructure inspection, where drones can be used to assess damage or maintenance required for critical national utilities, telecommunications and transportation infrastructures, ”says Altitude Angel.
Miriam McNabb is editor-in-chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has authored over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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