Home » BT invests £5m to develop ‘drone superhighway’ in England

BT invests £5m to develop ‘drone superhighway’ in England

by Sion Geschwindt
drone superhighway

Telecom giant BT has announced a £5m deal with startup Altitude Angel to spur the development of a drone superhighway in the UK.

BT’s digital unit, Etc., will support the startup’s Project Skyway, which involves the development of a 165-mile drone corridor above Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Coventry and Rugby.

Project Skyway would be the largest and longest network of drone superhighways in the world and is backed by the UK government’s Future Flight programme.

The £5 million deal will accelerate Altitude Angel’s roll-out of a UTM (Unified Traffic Management) software which detects and identifies drones, while also enabling them to safely share the airspace with crewed aircraft.

The startup says the deal is a “critical stepping stone” toward long distance drone flights and will enable faster delivery of essential and non-essential items, unlocking an industry estimated to be worth £45bn by 2030.

Under the deal, BT Group will provide connectivity and network infrastructure to support the drone superhighway.

The new partners eventually plan to expand the drone superhighway beyond the planned 165-miles, to connect towns and cities as well as transport and package delivery hubs across the country.

Richard Parker, CEO and founder, Altitude Angel, commented: “With BT Group, Altitude Angel has a partner which shares its ambition to make automated commercial drone operations at scale in the UK a day-to-day reality.

“Combining our ARROW technology, which allows crewed and uncrewed aircraft to share the same skies, safely and securely, with BT Group’s significant communications infrastructure, we can quickly bring ARROW to the masses.

“This will provide the UK with the first nationwide drone superhighways, unlocking the potential of this new and innovative technology and revolutionising business operations in countless industries.”

Tom Guy, Managing Director, Etc. – BT Group, said: “At Etc., we support businesses like Altitude Angel, who have game changing ideas that benefit from BT Group’s scale and our agile approach to growth.

“This partnership is a natural extension to BT Group’s work building the leading network in the UK, supporting the UTM industry that sits adjacent to our core business.”

BT Group will take a seat on Altitude Angel’s board, which will be held by Dave Pankhurst, BT Group’s Director of Drones, to drive the partnership forward and deliver against its goals.

Read next: Gleeds, Mace deploy AI tech on £780m Peru school build programme

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