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UK Drone Pathfinder programme lists real-world applications as a result of trials

The UK’s Department for Transport’s (DfT) Drone Pathfinder Catalyst programme reports that it has completed this year’s aims and objectives to accelerate commercial drone adoption; gain a deeper understanding of the public acceptance of drones; and solve technological challenges through Drones Transport Research and Innovation Grants (TRIG: Drones).

The Department reports that since launching in 2018, the Drone Pathfinder Catalyst programme, delivered by Connected Places Catapult, has provided a transition for the UK from drone trialling to application. The programme focused on what can be done within today’s regulation and technology, demonstrating the benefits to different industry sectors while addressing the challenges and approaches to safety. This included giving evidence to deliver safe, secure, and sustainable drone flight, through working with:

Network Rail to demonstrate how drones minimise the risk of trackside working and reduce network outages

Yorkshire Housing to demonstrate how drones can reduce the overall cost of planned and preventative maintenance

Buxton Mountain Rescue to demonstrate how drones designed for inclement weather can save lives in search and rescue operations

The Environment Agency to understand how drones can monitor the UK’s changing coastlines that are increasingly under threat due to climate change

AGRI-EPI and a broad range of stakeholders to demonstrate how drones can increase farming yield and reduce the use of fertilisers and pesticides through more targeted application

Herotech8 to demonstrate how drone in a box solutions can deliver greater efficiencies and unlock new applications through increased automation

The DfT also report that “from these real-life examples, Connected Places Catapult developed a Drone Readiness Assessment; a high-level approach for adopting and scaling drone use within organisations. This enables industries and public sector to continue to assess and understand the adoption of drone technology and services to realise the immediate cost saving, productivity, and efficiency benefits.

“The programme saw collaboration with public, private and industry organisations who were able to engage with key authorities such as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

“In addition, research into the public acceptance of drones has been achieved through engagement and focus groups with the public through market research and insight partner, Trinity McQueen.

“The Pathfinder also enabled six SMEs to deliver early-stage research and development studies to examine the integration of drones into UK airspace, via TRIG: Drones. Research collected from the TRIG: Drones projects will help the SME’s involved to adopt and utilise these enhancements”.

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(Image: Connected Places Catapult)


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