Flying High Challenge lifts the lid on integrating drones into UK cities

David Parry/PA Wire

Organisers of Nesta’s Flying High Challenge have disclosed details about the first stage of its project, which looks to integrate commercial drones into urbanised areas in the UK.

Since the initiative announced the five regions taking part on the Flying High Challenge in February, Bradford, London, Preston, Southampton, and the West Midlands have working diligently to assemble local task forces, conduct use-case selection exercises and begin to build a perspective on how drones could operate in their communities in the future.

The first stage of work focused largely on selecting prototype use cases for Nesta’s Flying High research team to analyse in terms of their technical and economic feasibility.

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To select potential use cases, the Nesta team worked with each city to evaluate a range of different drone uses in terms of their suitability and compatibility with city’s need and anticipated economic and social impact. The Flying High team was keen to investigate use cases that offer a degree of complexity but could feasibly be tested within two to three years and operate at scale within 10 years.

A spokesperson for the challenge said: “Each city took this opportunity to engage local partners to consider a number of uses that drones could perform in a city, including things such as monitoring and repairing transport infrastructure; identifying and responding to emergency situations; delivering blood or medical supplies between hospitals or other locations; and surveying and performing tasks related to construction or regeneration projects.”

Moving forward, each city has assigned a technical lead to collaborate with Nesta’s technical team to assess the technical and economic feasibility and evaluate the estimated social impact of each use case over the coming months.

Now, each city is hosting stakeholder workshops to think creatively about the future of drones in their city looking to 2040, and what parameters should be developed to shape if, and how drones perform various functions in the long-term.

The outcomes of these workshops will form the basis of the city visions and strategies that Nesta is developing, to be released in July along with the findings of the technical studies.

Image: David Parry/PA Wire

Tags : dronesdrones in citiesflying high challengeNesta
Emma Calder

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