Drone think tank explores new applications

Leading academics, policy makers, business and industry experts met Bradford Council officers today to explore the latest drone industry technologies, trends and opportunities at a special workshop held at the Design Exchange in Bradford’s Little Germany.

Professor Robert Richardson, Director of the Institute of Design, Robotics and Optimisation spoke to the group about the Self-Repairing Cities programme which is developing robots that will identify, diagnose and repair street-works through minimally invasive techniques.

Matthew Greaves, from Drones on Demand, talked about new developments in drone 3D mapping and innovative applications in the fields of social housing and landscape erosion.

Drone advocate and UAV Hive administrator, Ian Hudson, presented the latest developments in open-source drone software and hardware.

Local enthusiast, Stephen Garnett, shared his passion for creating drone video footage and gave insights into the local drone scene.

And, Ana Florescu, Researcher at Science Practice, a London-based design and research company, spoke about exciting new urban uses for drones.

The specially formed think tank worked through future drone use scenarios and developed some guiding principles for the creation of the city’s new drone strategy.

The group has been brought together by Bradford Council to push the technological and regulatory boundaries of high-tech remotely controlled craft as part of the national Flying High Challenge.

The Flying High Challenge is an innovation programme designed to see how drones could be used to support public services, explore new commercial uses and shape future UK regulations and policies.

Bradford is one of only five cities picked to take part in the programme which is run by Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre in partnership with Innovate UK, the British Government’s innovation agency.

Bradford was selected for its strengths in technological innovation, partnership working and enthusiasm to adopt new technologies. The district’s densely populated urban areas, moorland, farmland and woodland offers the project a range of diverse environments in which to test the technology.

Steve Hartley, Strategic Director for Place, Bradford Council, said: “The Flying High Challenge presents us with exciting new opportunities to be pioneers in the drone industry and we are delighted to be working alongside leading experts to push the boundaries of how this technology can be applied.

“Our involvement demonstrates our commitment to establish the district as a test-bed for innovation.

“The programme will not only help shape future drone applications across the UK, we are also investigating how drones could be used to address our challenges locally for the benefit of Bradford’s people and businesses.”

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