Home » DfT catalyst programme puts UK at ‘forefront of drone innovation’

DfT catalyst programme puts UK at ‘forefront of drone innovation’

by Sion Geschwindt
Catalyst programme puts UK 'at forefront of drone innovation'

The Department for Transport’s (DfT) Drone Pathfinder Catalyst programme has come to a close – leaving a promising legacy for commercial drone use in the UK.

According to organisers, Connected Places Catapult, the programme has successfully accelerated commercial drone adoption and public acceptance, and solved technological challenges through Drones Transport Research and Innovation Grants.

Since launching in 2018, the Drone Pathfinder Catalyst programme has helped transition 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 the likes of Network Rail and Yorkshire Housing.

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. 

Collaboration is key

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.

Henry Tse, executive director of New Mobility at Connected Places Catapult said: “The impact of the Drone Pathfinder Catalyst Programme has positioned the UK at the forefront of drone innovation; enabling companies and organisations to capitalise on the country’s world-class strength in drone technology.

“Now is the time for companies to explore and embrace the potential of drones to be more efficient, more innovative, and more ambitious in how they deliver their services.

“Connected Places Catapult is pleased to have been able to deliver such a successful programme for the Department for Transport; providing a platform for innovators to connect, explore solutions and share information with the drone community. We look forward to seeing what is next on the drone horizon.”

Transport Minister, Robert Courts, added:The UK is a world leader in innovation and aviation technology and drones play an important role within this sector.

 “We are committed to embracing the benefits of new types of aircrafts and this programme has been a fantastic demonstration of collaboration between Government and the Connected Places Catapult.

“Its work has helped us identify the potential for wider drone adoption across the UK by showcasing the ability to provide quicker, cheaper and more effective services for the public – from search and rescue, to tackling climate change.”

Image credit: sibsky2016/Shutterstock

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