The University of Southampton’s drone team has received £15,000 funding to allow it to develop drones with better battery life.
Former Southampton student and technology entrepreneur Dr Ewan Kirk has formed the Turner-Kirk UAV Research Support Programme along with Dr Patricia Turner.
The initial £15,000 granted by the programme to current fourth-year students at Southampton will go towards a research project aiming to lengthen the battery life and flight time of drones.
This will allow drones to monitor more remote environments which, the university says. It believes this will mean improved data collection regarding climate change, as well as surveillance of areas at high risk for poaching.
Once the project is complete the three teams of students will test their new drones in Guatemala, monitoring a live volcano.
Long-range drones do currently exist, but usually come with a high price tag.
Dr. Ewan Kirk, Director of the Turner-Kirk Charitable Trust, said: “In the future, it is totally possible that remote and hostile environments worldwide will be constantly monitored by UAVs, feeding back live data to environmental agencies, so we can track our global ecosystem in real-time.
“The application of technology is vital to mitigating environmental changes and the conservation of endangered animals, and universities, which are hotbeds for ideas and innovation, have an important role to play in developing the technology needed.”
The Kirk-Turner Foundation was founded in 2007 and since then has granted more than £7m.
The University of Southampton’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Team (Soton UAV) developed the world’s first 3D printed UAV in 2011.