A consortium of 16 companies including Vodafone has won a share of £30m in government funding to develop remotely-operated drones that could be used to test nuclear sites across the UK.
The project, led by sees.ai — a tech company specialising in command and control systems for drones — will explore whether operators based in a central control room hundreds of miles away can fly autonomous drones safely.
In a statement, Vodafone said the aim of the scheme was to “develop a system that will enable remote inspection and monitoring of industrial sites, from nuclear power stations to oil and gas installations”.
The £30m funding round will come from the government’s Future Flight Challenge competition, delivered by UK Research and Innovation.
The project will see Vodafone’s Radio Positioning Service integrated into a command and control system to develop satellite-based GPS location technology.
“For drones to deliver on their huge potential in business, we have to reduce the reliance on people — we have to enable safe and managed flights without the dependence on the traditional piloted approach,” said Anne Sheehan, business director at Vodafone UK.
“With our technology, we can play a crucial role in that and we’re looking forward to working with our partners to develop this vital capability.”