Future is Here? Drone 'Superhighway' to Connect Several Cities Proposed in the UK
© Photo : Altitude AngelAltitude Angel
© Photo : Altitude Angel
The new project plans to use Detect and Avoid (DAA) technology developed in 2020 in so-called “sandbox” trials along a five-mile flight corridor not far from Reading, in the south of England, when automated instructions were fed to unmanned drones to ensure they avoided crashing into each other.
The UK might become the first country to boast a “drone superhighway” linking towns and cities across the Midlands and the South-East.
A British consortium led by United Traffic Management (UTM) software provider, Altitude Angel, has already submitted blueprints to build the 165-mile (265km) network, dubbed Project Skyway, connecting the airspace above cities such as Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Coventry, and Rugby, British newspaper the Daily Mail, reported.
With a decision on the project expected from the government in the next few weeks, if greenlighted, the network could be extended to Southampton on the south coast and Ipswich on the east coast.
The consortium has touted its project as seeking to “unlock the huge potential offered by unmanned aerial vehicles”, or drones, to boost development of businesses through “commercialisation” of innovative drone-based products and services.
‘Second Transport Revolution’
Altitude Angel’s chief executive and founder, Richard Parker, described his brainchild as the most ambitious transport project proposed for the country since the railway network.
“Britain is at the forefront of a second transport revolution. Drones have the potential to transport goods in a way our ancestors could never have imagined but would have surely understood. Britain can lead the world in these innovative and life-saving technologies, we have the skills and ambition to open our skies to safe and secure drone and air-taxi flights,” Parker was quoted as saying.
The network will rely on Detect and Avoid (DAA) technology, developed and tested along a five-mile (8km) Arrow Drone Zone built by Altitude Angel, south of Reading, in 2020.
© Photo : Altitude AngelAltitude Angel’s Project Skyway
Altitude Angel’s Project Skyway
© Photo : Altitude Angel
The Project Skyway plans would use 29 towers along the route in question, relaying information from drone sensors to the traffic management systems, while utilizing BT Mobile’s cellular network where possible, with Inmarsat’s satellite communications offering back-up.
The superhighway would be able to support fully automated drone flights beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) from any drone company. All that is needed would be for the latter to complete a series of basic technical integrations. In other words, there would be no need for specialist hardware on board the drone.
“With the government's support, using this technology as its foundation, we can create networks spanning the length and breadth of Britain, a super-highway network in the sky, providing critical digital infrastructure which will, in turn, enable the world's first truly national drone economy,” said Parker.
If the plans are approved, the infrastructure could be deployed by the end of October, and certified flights could take place next spring.
Altitude Angel has vowed to make the technology available for other cities around the world via a licensing agreement.