Winning partnership to improve urban drone safety in a world-first project
- SafeZone is a world-first project to deliver safer and more effective UAVs in urban areas.
- The collaboration is between two innovative SMEs: Zenotech and FlareBright.
- The project is funded by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
SafeZone is an innovative project designed to improve the safety and effectiveness of UAVs in the urban environment through a new aerodynamic data service. Two SMEs and global leaders in their respective fields are joining forces to innovate drone flight in cityscapes: Zenotech, specialists in high performance computing and aerodynamic simulation and Flare Bright, developers of a fully autonomous nano drone, Snapshot.
The SafeZone project will receive a share of £30 million from the Future Flight Challenge funded by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
Although drones offer flexibility, convenience and the ability to ease congestion in cities, they are rarely used in built-up areas. High winds are one of the major obstacles for drones and as urban areas become more built up with ever-higher skyscrapers, the tunnel effect of strong winds and the unknown effect of airstreams creates a particular hazard to flights.
In response, the partnership will deliver a new live data service which will provide real-time information about aerodynamic hazards in urbanised environments. The results of this project will allow drones to adapt their route as they fly through wind changes improving safety and public confidence in UAV flight in urban areas.
An initial market is commercial airports, where environmental concerns are driving the need for more effective autonomous inspection. The improved data about the aerodynamic environment will allow for more effective route planning, scheduling and ultimately efficiency.
This service will build on Zenotech’s technology base, “AIRSIGHT”, supported by DSTL for the use of drones in hazardous defence and security environments. SafeZone will further develop this technology and include requirements from civil aerospace and emerging mobility and logistics services. The data will be available in multiple levels of fidelity as a forecast subscription service with customisation to render specific hazards.
David Standingford, Director and Co-founder of Zenotech commented:
“We are thrilled to be working with FlareBright in this cutting-edge project which has the potential to change the nature of flight in our urban areas making UAVs a safe, viable option in cityscapes. This project pushes forward Zenotech’s existing work in using CFD to lead the way in next-generation UAVs. The aerodynamic analysis being used to create the data service will be running our ZCFD software on the latest graphical processing units (GPUs) from NVIDIA, which vastly speeds up the simulations making them more cost-effective.”
Chris Daniels, COO, FlareBright said:
“This project is likely to have profound impacts on the safety and ability of drones to fly in any built-up, industrial or airport zone. We’re delighted with the partnership with Zenotech and cannot think of a more synergistic coupling of companies. Their expertise in modelling the aerial drone environment complements FlareBright’s drone’s ability to fly anywhere safely, no matter what the weather, and measure winds accurately. This is one key aspect of our fully autonomous nano drone which is also used for image-capture and sensing in any challenging environment. We look forward to this project creating the best and most accurate information of the type of aerial environments where customers want their drones to fly.”
Gary Cutts, Future Flight Challenge Director said:
“At this very challenging time for the international aviation industry, it is a great testament to the UK’s drive and ambition that we have had such a strong response to the first funded Future Flight competition. The breadth, quality and creativity of the bids have been exceptional and the economic and social benefits offered are very significant. The projects we are now launching will position the UK strongly to drive the 3rd revolution in aviation.”
The SafeZone project will receive a share of £30 million from the Future Flight Challenge, part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, delivered by UK Research and Innovation and the Welsh Government via the direct involvement of Cardiff Airport and Saint Athan Airport. This Future Flight initiative is projected to create twenty additional jobs.
As evidence of their cutting-edge work in the aviation field, both FlareBright and Zenotech are also part of other Future Flight winning consortia: the Sustainable Aviation Test Environment and SkyDroCell.
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Zenotech develops cloud high-performance computing and computational fluid dynamics technology for the aerospace, automotive, civil and renewable energy sectors empowering them to improve competitiveness and responsiveness to market changes.
This high-tech SME delivers simulation securely at scale for organisations of all sizes offering faster, more accurate and cost-effective solutions by exploiting the latest hardware for power and efficiency. From acoustics capacity and noise reduction in aircraft to the optimisation of wind turbines, Zenotech’s tools and technical consultancy are designed to enhance business performance and improve sustainability.
The Zenotech team collaborates with both researchers and leading computer capability providers to develop cutting-edge technology.
Flare Bright is the leading developer of fully autonomous drones and drone systems. It is a UK company founded by a team of successful entrepreneurs and engineers. Its key product, SnapShot, is an all-weather instant image capture drone used by defence, the emergency services and for industrial uses.
Flare Bright’s mission is to become a leading supplier and innovator of autonomous flight systems. Using SnapShot as our proving technology, we will build robust tech, engineering and manufacturing know-how that creates products and services to supply the world’s growing aerospace autonomy sector.
Flare Bright has numerous Letters of Support from key customers, was a winner of Phase 1 of InnovateUK’s Future Flight competition and has been selected to be showcased on the Army Warfighting Experiment 2020.
See more at www.flarebright.com