Zenotech and the University of Dundee join forces on next-generation UAVs project

Zenotech and the University of Dundee join forces on next-generation UAVs project

Zenotech and the University of Dundee have collaborated successfully on an exciting project which emerged from DASA-funded research to optimise next-generation autonomous vehicles. Individually, both partners won contracts from DASA earlier this year as two of 21 projects awarded £2.1 million to improve how autonomous vehicles and systems operate in challenging environments through Dstl’s “Autonomy in Challenging Environments” research competition. 

The industry and academic collaboration came about as a natural synergy emerged between the two during a networking event organised by DASA. Both partners exchanged data from their respective work. 

As part of their contribution to the DASA project, Zenotech performed extremely large-scale airflow modelling to characterise the aerodynamic environment around buildings and cityscapes, which are different from the winds experienced by conventional aircraft. This data will provide information for the routing and operation of autonomous air vehicles effectively and safely offering greater insight into wind conditions.

The University of Dundee worked on a prototype which integrated Zenotech’s airflow simulation with their visualisation interface. This work was led by Dr Kieran Baxter of the 3DVisLab at the University’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, who specialises in interactive visualisation of 3D environment data. The 3DVisLab developed an immersive interface to improve situational awareness when flying UAVs in complex environments.

The two teams had not met before embarking on the project, and the Covid-19 restrictions necessitated that they exchange data remotely. However, this did not stop them from working together to deliver a new set of results for the programme. These exciting results were presented to Dstl, the sponsoring organisation, at the programme’s final review meeting. 

James Sharpe, Zenotech lead for big data and security said:

“We are delighted to have participated in this industry and academic partnership with the University of Dundee to extend the results of our respective DASA-funded projects. The outcomes of this research will help to drive forward the next generation of UAVs as well as develop our tech products for new, innovative applications. We look forward to extending this successful collaboration in the future.”

Dr Kieran Baxter commented:

“It is important for us to understand how new generations of data will inform not only autonomous systems but also the human operators behind them. We were privileged to work with Zenotech to demonstrate how their state of the art airflow modelling data can be effectively visualised for the end user. Through our continued collaboration we hope to answer key questions surrounding the implications of emerging UAV technologies.”

Following the success of this partnership, Zenotech and the University of Dundee are now exploring further collaboration. 

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