Coming soon to a town near you… the world’s biggest automated drone superhighway.
The UK Government has given the go-ahead for the world’s largest and longest network of drone superhighways to be built in the UK. The 165-mile highway will link towns and cities from the Midlands to the South East, with the possibility of extending the corridor to other locations across the country.
Given the name ‘Project Skyway’, this ambitious new transport capability will be achieved through a consortium. The project will be led by Reading-based UTM (United Traffic Management) alongside BT, supplying expertise and connectivity through its mobile network, EE and several UK tech start-ups.
Together it is expected that the group will develop and build 165 miles of drone superhighways across the UK over the next two years. The highway will connect airspace above Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Coventry and Rugby.
The group will build 165 miles of drone superhighways across the UK over the next two years
Project Skyway is part of a £273m funding package for the aerospace sector, revealed by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng at the Farnborough Airshow. Skyway will more than £12m of this package.
A government spokesperson commented: “This could revolutionise the way we transport goods and travel in a way not experienced since the advent of the railways in the 18th century, and we are thrilled to be flying the flag on the global stage for UK PLC.”
“The social and economic potential of drones is immense and requires close industry collaboration to fully unlock these opportunities in a safe and responsible way”
Dave Pankhurst, Director of Drones at BT
How will the superhighway work?
At present, most drones are operated by human pilots. Skyway will allow manufacturers to connect their drones to a virtual superhighway system. This system will guide the drones safely through the automated corridors to their destinations without needing a pilot.
Skyway technology is based on a system of ground-based sensors which provide a real-time picture of drones in the airspace. By guiding the drones safely along the corridors, collisions can be avoided and air safety maintained.