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BT-led consortium gets funding for infrastructure drone project

A project designed to explore the use of drones to monitor key pieces of infrastructure has won funding from the UK Research and Innovation agency.

As far as forced acronyms go, this is decent effort. The project is called InDePTH, which is an abbreviation of ‘Intelligent Drones for Port and Highways Technology’. They must have looked at IDPTH and thought they were so tantalisingly close to a catchy name that a bit of creative license was allowed.

The project is led by BT, according to its own press release, but is being run by a consortium also consisting of Associated British Ports (ABP), Kier Highways, Connected Places Catapult, RoboK and Herotech8. It’s part of the Future Flight Challenge Phase 3 programme, which UK government agency UKRI allocated £73 million in funding to earlier this year.

It’s not revealed how big a piece of that piece this project is getting but we do know it’s focused on investigating the use of drones to carry out automatic ‘beyond visual line of sight’ (BVLOS) missions to monitor and control critical national infrastructure such as highways and ports. It’s easy to see how having a constant, connected aerial view of complicated infrastructure environments could help make sure everything is functioning as well as possible.

“Working collaboratively, we can realise the true potential of drone technologies and develop the innovative new use cases that can add value to ports and highways and many other industries,” said John Davies, Chief Researcher at BT. “Together we are taking a leading role in demonstrating the positive impact drones can have on the economy – specifically helping businesses to become more efficient and supporting the path to net zero.”

It’s not immediately obvious how adding swarms of drones to our already cluttered skies supports the path to net zero but such claims are almost compulsory while a COP event is underway. The aim of the project is to demonstrate the concept of drones-as-a-service, which features other whizzy technologies such as AI and data analytics to deliver actionable insights from the images taken by these drones.

 

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