wins Future Flight Challenge Phase 3 funding

We’re proud to announce that our submission to Future Flight Challenge – Phase 3 has been successful and we have won another significant grant from the Future Flight Challenge and UK Research & Innovation. In Phase 3 we led a consortium of partners including National Grid, Network Rail and BT. We presented a project aiming to secure UK first approval from the Civil Aviation Authority for routine and safe BVLOS operations in non-segregated airspace at national scale. Our project was one of only 13 winning projects sharing £73m of funding from UKRI to develop and show integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies.

Our software puts remote pilots in charge of connected and autonomous drones. The software is capable of remotely addressing even the most complex, close-quarter missions and can deliver safe and efficient operation of drone fleets at a national scale. It is already being deployed for asset inspection purposes on the electricity transmission network through trials with NGET to automate corrosion inspection.

In Future Flight Phase 3 (FFP3) we will be advancing the software and our operational safety case to extend our current capabilities to:

  • Enable Atypical Airspace (AA) BVLOS inspection of assets in the public domain by leveraging our advanced spatial awareness and our integration into the aviation ecosystem. Our aim is to create a solid Concept of Operations that will allow us to obtain UK first approvals for routine and safe BVLOS operations in non-segregated at national scale flying in atypical airspace.
  • Enable a pilot to control multiple Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), an important step towards increasing the efficiency and scalability of UAS operations. We will also be aiming to be one of the first companies to obtain regulatory authorisation to fly multiple UAS simultaneously in AA.
  • Develop software that can provide comms between UAS and pilot in areas with poor or no 4G/5G coverage.

Work has already commenced by the consortium, comprising the following partners:

BT, National Grid Electricity Transmission Network (NGET), Network Rail, Imperial College London, Lancashire and Rescue Service, TerraDrone, Keen AI, DScience, Liveline Aerospace and Across Safety Development.

With these advancements our consortium will be hoping to contribute to the BVLOS infrastructure of the future.

You can learn more about FFP3 on the UKRI website here. BEIS also provide further context here:

About the Future Flight Challenge Fund

The Future Flight Challenge is investing up to £125 million to develop greener ways to fly, such as all-electric aircraft and deliveries by drone, by advancing electric and autonomous flight technologies. The investment is matched by £175 million from industry. The challenge aims to bring together technologies in electrification, aviation systems and autonomy to create new modes of air travel and capability. View the Future Flight Roadmap and Vision to position the UK as a global leader in advanced aviation solutions.