EXCLUSIVE: From rails to the skies, integrating UAVs at TfL

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Transport for London has conquered the water, the rails and the roads and now it is preparing to conquer the skies.

As the UK moves to better integrate drones into its urbanised areas, with projects such as Nesta’s Flying High Challenge promoting incorporating drones into developed cities, TfL is looking to enhance its service with the use of UAV capabilities in one of the largest and densely populated cities.

The transport authority has been working with Nesta as London was one of the five selectees chosen to take part in the Flying High Challenge, which was launched in February.

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While TfL offers support on the project as an engaged stakeholder, it is also looking to advance the use of drones within its business to provide a better service.

TfL’s foresight manager in the Transport Innovation Directorate Gareth Sumner, told Commercial Drone Professional: “The drone industry has expanded significantly in recent years and London’s public sector has already trialled using drones in various situations. This includes inspecting the construction of the Elizabeth Line and tactical operations by the Met Police.

“The capital has the busiest and most heavily regulated airspace in the UK, and the Nesta challenge will allow the city to have serious conversations about if, how and where drones could safely be used in future for the benefit of the city. If they can be safely and sensibly integrated in London, they can be integrated anywhere.

“As part of Nesta challenge we will be exploring the feasibility and appropriateness of a wide range of use cases including asset inspection, support to the emergency services and delivery of critical medical items.”
The Flying High Challenge, run by Nesta in partnership with funding from Innovate UK, is designed to maximise the economic and social benefits of UAVs in UK cities.

By collaborating with five selected cities, the Flying High Challenge will support each one to develop plans based on local community needs for one specific use-case.

Earlier this week Commercial Drone Professional reported that the five use-cases for the project had been revealed.

These use cases are:

• Urgent delivery of medical products between hospitals (in London)
• Surveying for urban regeneration (in Preston)
• Responding to traffic incidents (in the West Midlands)
• Supporting the fire service (in Bradford)
• Carrying medical goods across the Solent (from Southampton)

Tags : flying high challengeGareth SumnerNestaTFLTransport for London
Emma Calder

The author Emma Calder

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