Lift-off for UCLan and Preston City council drone project
Aerial Uptake initiative seeks to remove barriers to the future use of innovative Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in the EU
The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Preston City Council are collaborating on a cross-European initiative which aims to spark a major increase in the use of drone technology to help foster economic growth and societal benefit.
The new Aerial Uptake project aims to remove barriers that hinder the successful application of innovative drone technology across the European Union. While drone applications have promising potential in the fields of public safety, logistics and agriculture, the lack of a level European playing field and limited knowledge and public acceptance of this emerging technology call for improved regional development policies to overcome these barriers.
The project, which has just started, will run its initial phase for two years. The Preston partners join a number of European partners consisting of municipalities, regional governments and research institutes: Province of Overijssel and City of Enschede (The Netherlands), Government of Catalonia and I2CAT (Spain), City of Osijek (Croatia), Rzeszow Regional Development Agency (Poland), and RISE Research Institutes of Sweden.
In Preston, the project will be led by UCLan’s Civic Drone Centre - a collaboration between the University’s new £35 million Engineering Innovation Centre and the Media Innovation Studio research group - and Preston City Council.
Professor Darren Ansell, who heads the Civic Drone Centre and also Aerospace and Space lead, said: “The Aerial Uptake initiative is a great opportunity to learn from the work already being done by the other project partners and share good practice with them, helping accelerate drone use in city regions. I’m delighted that UCLan is working with Preston City Council and together we are leading the UK’s involvement in the project.”
"Given our rich history and reputation as an aerospace hub, Preston is ideally placed to be leading the way on this project. Working with partners at UCLan and its world-class facilities, I’m sure this project will be a success."
Media Innovation Studio Lecturer and Researcher John Mills added: “Aerial Uptake will allow the Civic Drone Centre to continue to explore the potential future of drone technology for economic and societal benefits. In better understanding the barriers to uptake - such as regulatory barriers and technological hurdles - the project will allow the region to place itself at the centre of drone development We’re excited about working across UCLan faculties, with Preston City Council and with drone specialists, businesses and members of the public over the coming years.”
Councillor Freddie Bailey, Cabinet member for community wealth building at Preston City Council, said: “Given our rich history and reputation as an aerospace hub, Preston is ideally placed to be leading the way on this project. Working with partners at UCLan and its world-class facilities, I’m sure this project will be a success.”
The main objective of the project is to improve the performance of regional development policies and programmes by strengthening their contribution to the delivery of new technologies and applications of unmanned aerial systems (often referred to as drones) for civil and commercial usage. The project aims to reach this objective through interregional learning activities.
The collaboration will focus on three thematic fields. Firstly, fostering innovation through facilitative measures for experimenting, testing and demonstrating novel UAS technologies. Secondly, promoting market uptake through enhanced collaboration and networking from an end-user perspective. Lastly, improving societal acceptance by addressing ethical, legal and social concerns, raising public demand and due consideration of potential social impacts and benefits.