BT, the incumbent UK carrier, is betting on drones. The company is backing start-up Altitude Angel with £5 million. An opportunity to reach an agreement to create a highway for drones in the United Kingdom, as detailed by the partners on January 4, 2023.
The highway is over 200 km long.
The Skyway project, piloted by a consortium led by BT and Altitude Angel, aims to create an unmanned highway to promote delivery and other services. This 265 km long air corridor should link Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Coventry and Rugby. This Skyway project is also supported by the government’s Future Flight program.
To see the light, this program is based on technologies developed by Altitude Angel. The startup, founded in 2014, is developing the Unified Traffic Management (UTM) software platform for managing and coordinating drones. The idea is that different devices can fly safely at the same time, without a pilot, and over long distances. In parallel, a drone detection and identification technology called Arrow is being developed, which also allows these small devices to coexist with manned aircraft.
It is this latter solution that is of particular interest in the context of the Skyway project. The agreement with BT should help the startup to roll out its technology on a large scale. The carrier must provide the connectivity, network infrastructure, and scale deployment experience to set up and maintain the Arrow tower network. Specifically, the idea is that Altitude Angel can mount its antennas, including cameras and sensors, on BT telecom towers.
Ultimately, this highway for drones should help market these aircraft and expand the use and services that result from their use. For example, one can imagine the improvement of essential services, be it emergency services (real-time search and rescue operations), transportation of medical equipment, etc., as well as the development of a quick delivery service for individuals.
The UK is ramping up drone testing, whether it’s fast service to the Isle of Wight, test drones flying out of the operator’s line of sight, or even delivering packages to the Isles of Scilly. The country does not seem to want to be left behind in this technology.
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