‘Ambitious’ drone highway plan receives £5m investment from BT

A package delivery drone

A package delivery drone

Plans for the UK’s first nationwide drone highway, dubbed ‘Project Skyway’, have received substantial support after receiving a £5m investment from BT.

Project Skyway heralds the arrival of the next generation of aviation by developing a 165-mile drone corridor over Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Coventry and Rugby. It is expected to be the largest and longest network of drone highways in the world.

The project is led by Altitude Angel, a Reading-based UTM (Unified Traffic Management) solution provider.

“This is the most ambitious transportation project proposed for the country since the emergence of the rail network in the 18th century,” said Richard Parker, CEO and founder of Altitude Angel. “The UK is at the forefront of a second transport revolution.”

According to Chris Foster, aerospace technology operations manager at Altitude Angel, the superhighway has multiple potential uses: “Whether it’s a business doing logistics, or the delivery of police and medical vaccines and blood samples, there’s a real demand to be able to enter this airspace. for.”

‘Technology is transformative’

BT’s £5 million investment will go into developing the Altitude Angel’s sense-and-avoid (DAA) software technology, called ARROW®, to monitor airspace and help prevent collisions with other crewed aircraft.

Mr. Parker underlines the usefulness of the software: “The ARROW® technology we are building here is transformative – it is the foundation of Skyway and the only scalable, viable mechanism that initiates the safe and equitable integration of drones into our daily lives. crewless aviation can coexist safely.”

While drones often need to be controlled by humans, Project Skyway overcomes this hurdle by allowing any drone manufacturer to connect a drone to a virtual highway system. The drones will then be guided safely along “corridors” to their destination using only a software integration.

IT will support Altitude Angel’s software development by providing the connectivity and network infrastructure for the mobile network via EE.

Dave Pankhurst, BT’s director of drones, said: “Through our EE network, BT provides Project Skyway with the UK’s largest and most reliable network to keep drones connected to ARROW®, thus providing greater situational awareness and tactical collision avoidance. They can receive instructions. Transmit important video streams, such as the autopilot system and search and rescue footage, back to their control rooms.”

As Pakhurst points out, the project promises to revolutionize transport and delivery services: “Project Skyway is to show how the UK will not only lead the creation of new jobs and utilities, but also form the backbone of how we integrate drones into our daily lives. It’s going to be very important to their life.”

Project Skyway is expected to be operational within two years.

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