Consortium wins £30m grant to accelerate drone inspections

© Dmitry Kalinovsky

Consortium secures grant to accelerate remote inspection and monitoring of industrial sites by drone during the Covid-19 crisis, leading a consortium of eight partners that include NATS, Vodafone, Skanska and Sellafield, has won a share of £30m from the Future Flight Challenge, a proportion of which has been allocated to address the Covid-19 pandemic.

The consortium is developing an advanced drone system that will facilitate the faster exchange of information between offsite and onsite teams.

It will also help increase productivity and health & safety of onsite workers and reduce the number of visits to site overall.

The solution teams human pilots operating beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) in a control room with highly-automated drones on the client site to enable the remote execution of complex, close-quarter missions on industrial sites. It unlocks the remote capture of aerial data at enterprise scale for the first time.

NATs and Vodafone are technical partners for the project.’s solution will be operated by Terra Drone for tests with end-clients Skanska; Skanska Costain STRABAG working in partnership with HS2; and Atkins.

Sellafield’s in-house drone team will test the solution on their site.

‘Bridge the gap between offsite and onsite teams’ CEO, John McKenna, said: “As the Covid-19 crisis continues, there is mounting pressure to keep our construction sites, industrial sites and infrastructure running, while protecting people’s health.

“Our solution will bridge the gap between offsite and onsite teams, allowing crucial work to continue and increasing productivity, without risking people’s safety.”

Gary Cutts, Future Flight Challenge director, added: “At this very challenging time for the international aviation industry, it is a great testament to the UK’s drive and ambition that we have had such a strong response to the first funded Future Flight competition.

“The breadth, quality and creativity of the bids has been exceptional and the economic and social benefits offered are very significant.

“The projects we are now launching will position the UK strongly to drive the 3rd revolution in aviation.”


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