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UCLan’s Civic Drone Centre launched

25 February 2015

Chris Theobald

International speakers gathered to discuss future applications of drone technology as force for good.

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From l-r: Aerial Vue’s Dave Halton, Dickens Olewe, Knight Foundation Fellow from Stanford University, and Dr Carl Robinson, Head of Airborne Survey Technology at British Antarctic Survey.

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From l-r: UCLan’s Dr Darren Ansell, UCLan’s Professor Paul Egglestone, UA Imaging’s Keith Trainer and Dickens Olewe, Knight Foundation Fellow from Stanford University.

 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or ‘drones’ are often viewed in a negative light because of their military association but the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has hosted a one-day workshop to launch its Civic Drone Centre project by highlighting how drones can be a force for good.

By focusing on humanitarian aid, journalism and media, search and rescue, the Centre is committed to supporting a wide variety of civilian uses for UAVs, submersibles and remotely piloted land vehicles.

Guest speaker Mickey Ostriecher, US lawyer and UAV regulation specialist, joined representatives from the British Antarctic Survey team and Dickens Olewe, Knight Foundation fellow and journalist at the Star Newspaper in Kenya, to talk about the opportunities and challenges of working with UAV technology.

“We wanted to build on the success of our crowd-sourced mountain rescue project AeroSee which we ran in conjunction with the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team."

They were joined at the launch, on 19 February, by representatives from the CAA, ARPAS-UK, the BBC and members of the wider UAS Operators community. Through a discussion and a highly interactive workshop the day-long lab connected people from a range of different disciplines with widely varying expertise to share ideas and ultimately, devise collaborative projects that explore the huge potential of drone technology and how they might be exploited safely and legally.

Professor Paul Egglestone, Director of UCLan’s Media Innovation Studio, said: “We wanted to build on the success of our crowd-sourced mountain rescue project AeroSee which we ran in conjunction with the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team. We’d love to develop a series of new challenges with the people who participated in the workshop and after a successful ideas generation session on the day I think we’ll be able to do that.”

“There were some amazing people who came to the event. Not just the speakers – who were fantastic – but people from the UAV community who are already using this technology in all sorts of interesting ways."

Dr Darren Ansell, UCLan’s Space and Aerospace Engineering Lead, has been developing and building UAV technology for over a decade. He said: “There were some amazing people who came to the event. Not just the speakers – who were fantastic – but people from the UAV community who are already using this technology in all sorts of interesting ways. Whether they’re in agriculture, humanitarian aid, film and media, search and rescue or using drones for surveys or gathering environmental data – it was a great mix of people and the day was a lot of fun.”

The Civic Drone Centre is a collaboration between UCLan’s Media Innovation Studio and the Engineering Innovation Centre designed to examine innovative drone uses and market places. The workshop marked the next phase in its development connecting the UAV community, legal experts, researchers, engineers and end users to start a new journey into the future of UAV technologies and applications.