The Flying High Challenge will select five UK cities to study urban c-drone use. Image: Flying High

UK: Five cities to be selected for c-drone consultation

Policy • regulations • airspace

The Nesta foundation, a UK-based charity, and Innovate UK, a government research funding body, have announced a program dubbed the Flying High Challenge for five UK cities to work on urban policy concerning c-drones.

Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre will organize collaborative engagement with the cities to be selected in mid-February, developing plans based on local community needs such as medical supply transport, first responders, flood search & rescue, traffic monitoring, deliveries, and infrastructure inspection. The selection will be made based on three broad criteria: vision, stakeholder engagement and capacity to commit. A report will be published in April 2018.

Technology, infrastructure, liability, safety, and privacy aspects of c-drones in urban environments will be addressed, and there will be specific proposals for regulations designed to foster c-drone development and use while taking into account the public’s concerns. In particular, near-future developments such as autonomous c-drones and 5G networks are expected to be considered.

Baroness Sugg, UK Aviation Minister, said:

“Drones have great potential and we want to do everything possible to harness the benefits of this technology as it develops. But if we are to realise the full potential of this incredibly exciting technology, we have to take steps to stop illegal use of these devices and address safety and privacy concerns. These new laws [will] strike a balance, to allow the vast majority of drone users to continue flying safely and responsibly, while also paving the way for drone technology to revolutionise businesses and public services.”

The project will be financed by the UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), air traffic control company NATS, and Cranfield University are participants.