Drone fire fighting project among first to receive slice of £7 million government funding


Projects harnessing technology to support the fight against COVID-19 and other challenges like climate change, have been backed by government investment.

And among the 20 winning ideas from first wave of projects, which will receive a share of £7 million funding, three involve businesses based in our region.

Windracers SWARM technology Bristol, Southampton) will develop technology which allows multiple drones to fly in close formations for a variety of purposes including fighting fires and providing humanitarian aid.

Dock-to-Dock will demonstrate an alternative to road transportation between coastal cities, developing a pilot project to deliver goods by air using clean energy: initially between Avonmouth Docks in Bristol and Cardiff Docks in Wales. The project will focus on vehicle performance and the infrastructure necessary for hydrogen-powered electric aircraft which take-off and land vertically, and therefore don’t require runways.

Malvern-based Droneprep Ltd, is working with Consortiq Limited and Windracers Limited, based in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, to use unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver critical PPE and Covid-19 testing kits to vulnerable, rural communities in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The £7 million is part of a total investment in new technologies of £33.5 million which comes from the Future Flight Challenge, which aims to increase mobility, reduce reliance on road travel thereby improving road congestion, and increase UK manufacturing opportunities.

Chair of the Drone Industry Action Group, Ian Gray, said: “The Future Flight Challenge has been hugely successful in bringing together the different communities necessary to realise the economic and social benefits in the UK of autonomous air vehicles. I am delighted on behalf of the Drones Industry Action Group to see the range of successful grant awards including drone developers, service providers and Air Traffic Management solution providers.”

The Drone Industry Action Group was established in 2016 as a collaborative forum for government and the sector to exchange views as the opportunities and challenges emerge in the move to autonomous flight.