The UK may soon be home to a 165-mile “drone superhighway” – a dedicated lane of airspace for cargo drones across the east of England.
Project Skyway, led by a consortium, including Reading-based software developer Altitude Angel, hopes to secure airspace permission initially over Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Coventry and Rugby, hoping to add Southampton and Ipswich later on.
The project offers “a decentralised approach to point-to-point deliveries”, which could take trucks off roads, a spokesperson for the developer said.
The drones would use detect and avoid (DAA) networks, orchestrated by algorithmic traffic-control on the ground, to adjust their flight plans in real time and enable them to share airspace with other craft.
Drone operators don’t need to take off from specific drone ports if the operator has permission to take off from the landowner within the ‘superhighway’ corridor.
The service would be provided through “software and connectivity integrations”, which would require no additional hardware onboard the drones.
Richard Parker, Altitude Angel, CEO and founder, said: “Britain is at the forefront of a second transport revolution. Drones have the potential to transport goods in a way our ancestors could never have imagined but would have surely understood.
“Britain can lead the world in these innovative and life-saving technologies, we have the skills and ambition to open our skies to safe and secure drone and air-taxi flights.
“With the Government’s support, using this technology as its foundation, we can create networks spanning the length and breadth of Britain, a super-highway-network-in-the-sky, providing a critical digital infrastructure which will, in-turn, enable the world’s first truly national drone economy.”
Skyway partners will collaborate to deploy the DAA solution, where possible on existing infrastructure, in combination with unified traffic management (UTM) software-as-a-service, to enable greater awareness of manned and unmanned traffic to all stakeholders.
Once the initial UK highway is established, Altitude Angel will make available the technology to allow any organisation, airport, town, or city in the UK and beyond, which wants to establish and operate a superhighway to do so quickly, easily, and cost-effectively through a simple licensing agreement.
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