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Flying High Cities Update

Written by Kathy Nothstine

April 26, 2018

We are pleased to share this update capturing some of the highlights of how the five partner cities have been engaging with Flying High since we kicked off the programme in early February.

Since the kickoff, each of the five cities/regions – Bradford, London, Preston, Southampton, and the West Midlands region – has been working diligently to assemble local task forces, conduct use case selection exercises and begin to build a perspective on how drones could operate in their communities in the future.

The first stage of work focused largely on selecting prototype use cases for Nesta’s Flying High research team to analyse in terms of their technical and economic feasibility. To select potential use cases, the Nesta team worked with each city to evaluate a range of different drone uses in terms of their suitability and compatibility with city need and anticipated economic and social impact. Further, the team was keen to investigate use cases that offer a degree of complexity, yet could feasibly be tested within two to three years and operate at scale within 10 years.

Each city took this opportunity to engage local partners to consider a number of uses that drones could perform in a city, including things such as monitoring and repairing transport infrastructure; identifying and responding to emergency situations; delivering blood or medical supplies between hospitals or other locations; and surveying and performing tasks related to construction or regeneration projects. This guide offers an introduction to the types of tasks that drones can perform in urban settings.

Moving forward, each city has assigned a technical lead to collaborate with Nesta’s technical team to assess the technical and economic feasibility and evaluate the estimated social impact of each use case over the coming months.

Now, each city is convening stakeholder workshops to think creatively about the future of drones in their city looking to 2040, and what parameters should be developed to shape if and how drones perform various functions in the long-term. The outcomes of these workshops will form the basis of the city visions and strategies that Nesta is developing, to be released in July along with the findings of the technical studies. 

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  1. This is a great development for commercial drones in the UK. I am particularly interested in finding out who the assigned technical leads are as I would like to get involved in future work and support where possible.

Written by Kathy Nothstine

April 26, 2018