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First Flying High use cases published

Written by Olivier Usher

December 20, 2017

The Flying High Challenge is now live, with cities preparing their applications. The vision of Flying High is both to understand how drone systems will operate at scale – and to develop and guide the key applications for drones that cities find most compelling.

To support city applications to the programme we’ve already published an Introductory Pack that maps out potential applications for drones in urban contexts and provides a range of use cases and examples as inspiration.

After further research we have shortlisted 13 specific drone use cases that could have a strong positive economic and social impact if implemented in urban contexts. Today we’re publishing short briefing documents on the first six of these – the remainder will be published in January.

In our selection, we tried to include use cases from the different applications identified in the Introductory Pack – Monitoring, Inspecting, Delivering Goods, Transporting People and Intervening. We also tried to cover a range of sectors including public services, emergency and commercial applications.

The use cases published today are:

  • Monitor air pollution
  • Map fires
  • Explore hazardous environments
  • Inspect large infrastructure
  • Upgrade road networks
  • Deliver goods

In January, we will publish similar documents on the following use cases:

  • Transport people
  • Boost mobile networks
  • Manage marine ports
  • Oversee construction sites
  • Respond to traffic accidents
  • Maintain utilities
  • Supply hospitals
  • More details here.

We think these use cases give a good spread of the kind of things that drones can do. That’s not to say it’s a final list, nor necessarily a comprehensive one, however!

If you’re involved in a city bid and you feel that your favourite use case is not covered, and is radically different from the ones we’ve set out here, get in touch and we’l look into that too.

About the use cases

As part of the shortlisting process we prioritised use cases in extreme and challenging environments, as these represent concrete contexts where drones could add value by reducing risk to human life, informing decision-making and enabling faster and more effective operations.

These short documents provide details on shortlisted use cases. They include an overview of key benefits of using drones and outlines key requirements that need to be addressed in order to make these use case a reality.

Requirements are broken down into technology, infrastructure and regulation. Each is given a relative score to make it easier to quickly grasp key challenges for each use case. 1 reflects a low complexity, 2 a medium complexity, and 3 a high complexity requirement.

Technology refers to the current state of technological innovation (e.g. sensors, battery efficiency, navigation software) and the innovations needed to effectively implement the specific use case.

Infrastructure considers existing facilities and networks as well as any additional infrastructure needed to implement the use case safely, at scale.

Regulation reflects existing and needed policy and legislation to enable the safe and secure implementation of the use case.

The documents also include some considerations to bear in mind for each use case, a real-world example, a number of related use cases that would benefit from similar drones, infrastructure and regulation, and examples of future use cases that could build on the capabilities of existing drones.

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Written by Olivier Usher

December 20, 2017