Loughborough University to help shape how drone tech is used in London

Loughborough University to help shape how drone tech is used in London

Loughborough University is set to help shape how drone can be used across the UK’s capital, in partnership with Nesta.

Nesta, a UK-based innovation foundation, has announced the five cities and districts across the country that will design how drone technology could be used to support their needs.

The foundation announced that Bradford, London, Preston, Southampton and the West Midlands will work with the Flying High team over the next five months to examine how drones could be used in their communities.

Following an open call in November 2017, more than a third of UK cities bid for a place on the Flying High Challenge, run by the Challenge Prize Centre of Nesta in partnership with Innovate UK.

The competition application that secured London as one of the five winning cities has outlined a strategic task force that will ensure learnings are relevant and useful to the city as a whole.

In addition to exploring the use of drones to support public services to the likely commercial opportunities, the teams will also consider public attitudes, environmental impact, logistics and safety of drones operating in complex urban environments.

In London, drones have already been used for safer infrastructure inspections and in helping the capital’s emergency services. Steps will now have to be identified to ensure the use of drones benefits the city and also support its ‘Healthy Streets’ approach for London’s future.

Loughborough University London dean Prof Mike Caine said: “Loughborough University from its London campus will support Transport for London and its consortium with a deep understanding of policy and experienced applied research into this emerging sector. The five UK task forces will be instrumental in allowing beyond-line-of-sight autonomous UAV ‘drones’ to be adopted by many industries, including emergency services and delivery logistics firms, in a safe and public-focussed way.”

What developments other universities are carrying out

The task force comprises TfL, the Greater London Authority, key organisations, national bodies, emergency services and academics from universities, including Loughborough University London.

TfL director of transport innovation Michael Hurwitz said: “Being part of Nesta’s Flying High Challenge will allow us to initiate a responsible, safety-first and collaborative approach to investigating the future of drones in London. We want to understand the risks, concerns and opportunities of this rapidly evolving area, and to identify what steps are needed to ensure the use of drones benefits the city and supports our ‘Healthy Streets’ approach for London’s future.”