LONDON The U.K. Government is investing £16 million to support a national program aimed at ensuring the safe operation of unmanned aviation vehicles in civil airspace without restrictive or specialized operational conditions.
The investment through the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) led Technology Programme forms part of the �£32 million ASTRAEA, (Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation and Assessment) program.
ASTRAEA will enable regions to strengthen their aerospace expertise and individual companies should benefit from participating in the program that will look at a issues related to UAV development and operation.
Unmanned craft could revolutionize police and fire service surveillance, coastal surveillance, power and pipeline inspections and mobile phone and broadband services, which currently rely on manned aircraft.
“ASTRAEA is a significant programme for the UK in establishing our credentials in the rapidly growing field of UAV development,” said Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Trade & Industry. ” It will strengthen collaboration across industry, universities, and regulatory authorities, positioning the U.K. amongst the world's leaders in UAV technology.”
The consortium is made up of Agent Oriented Software, BAE Systems, EADS UK, Flight Refuelling, QinetiQ, Rolls-Royce and Thales UK together with the Universities of Bath, Cranfield, Lancaster, Leicester, Loughborough, Aberystwyth, West of England and Sheffield, and a number of specialist small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
In addition to receiving �£5 million support from the DTI, ASTRAEA has also received �£11 million funding from the Regional Development Agencies in the South West, South East and North West, and Devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales.