Unmanned aerial vehicles should be deployed as a means of problem-solving, not as a novelty, claims Nesta.
Nishita Dewan, the lead on the Flying High Challenge, explained to Commercial Drone Professional that a key aspect in delivery drone-based solutions within urban areas is solving a problem. Dewan said that drones should not be shoehorned into the mainstream unnecessarily.
The Flying High Challenge is a programme developed by UK charity Nesta in partnership with the Government’s Innovate UK, and is designed to help the UK become a “global leader in shaping drone systems that place people’s needs first.”
Nesta sought applications from forward-thinking cities who were bidding to participate in a four-month strategic visioning exercise scheduled for this year to identify how drone systems could work alongside cities and their communities.
Dewan said: “What is the problem the city is facing and how is a drone a channel to solve that problem? Drones are not the solution to all of your problems, that’s not what we’re saying, we’re saying let’s work with you to identify what are the challenges in your city, in some cases it’s like a lot of traffic, so could drones be used to actually survey the congestion or to be used for post-accident monitoring.
“Some cities have a lot of regeneration going on so there’s actually an interest in using drones for the monitoring and surveillance of construction sites, so taking a problem first approach, what are your problems and how can drones be used to address those problems?”
Following a three-week deliberation, an external committee of industry experts, which was commissioned with the task to allow Nesta to remain impartial, deemed that London, Bradford, Preston, Southampton and the West Midlands, submitted the most well-rounded submissions.
The final five regions, that were announced earlier this year, will focus on a specific use case of UAVs, which will be announced over the coming weeks.