Future Flight Challenge flight trials at Cardiff Airport demonstrate accurate wind measurement in complex environments

As part of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funded Future Flight Challenge, the SafeZone project reports completion of a series of flight trials at Cardiff Airport. SafeZone aims to improve the safety and effectiveness of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the urban environment through a new aerodynamic data service. The project will contribute to urban flight development.

SafeZone completed a series of over 40 flight trials in three days to validate a component of future drone flying safety. Improved safety is a critical step towards making urban flight with its many benefits viable. One of the key safety factors to overcome is the knowledge of wind around buildings to a high level of granularity and how it will affect drone flights.

SafeZone worked within the regulated environment of Cardiff Airport to test this capability, with large buildings and aircraft creating wind effects that traditionally would have been difficult to model and predict, and even more challenging to measure. The tests were conducted successfully, using the latest computational techniques from Zenotech, and Flare Bright’s wind-measuring nanodrone. Flare Bright’s technology allows for accurate wind measurement in complex environments, where buildings and infrastructure interfere with modelling.

The partnership expect to deliver a new live data service to provide real-time information about aerodynamic hazards in urbanised environments based on the real data collected in the validation. Ultimately, the project aims to enable drones to adapt their route as they fly through wind changes, improving safety and public confidence in UAV flight in urban areas.

SafeZone is now looking for further use cases beyond airports, which may be urban areas, industrial sites, or any other situation where knowing wind strength at any height is useful.

Director and Co-founder of Zenotech, David Standingford said: “We are delighted that Cardiff Airport has allowed these on-site flight trials and that they have taken off with such success. Thanks to the UK Government in Wales for their assistance in connecting us with the airport. We look forward to incorporating the results of these trials into our work and pushing the future of flight to the next stage. Ultimately, the data will be available in multiple levels of fidelity as a forecast subscription service with customization to render specific hazards.”

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