UK unmanned traffic management (UTM) live trials, using drones, complete


A new report has been published by Connected Places Catapult, following live operational trials of an unmanned traffic management (UTM) solution. The report is a result of a three-year project sponsored by the Department for Transport (DfT), working alongside industry partners; NATS, Altitude Angel, ANRA Technologies, Cranfield University, the Satellite Applications Catapult, Thales UK, WING, GE (AiRXOS), Collins Aerospace and Skylift.

As a result of this program, the UK is at the forefront of UTM innovation and a step closer to enabling commercial UTM operations within UK airspace. Adopting the open-access UTM Framework as the starting point for future UTM initiatives will enable projects – including those funded via UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Future Flight Challenge – to build upon development to date and accelerate future advances in UTM.

The adoption of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), otherwise known as drones, can deliver substantial economic benefits through a range of new applications and business models. UTM will be required to unlock these benefits and provide safe and routine coordination of UAS as we move to increasingly automated and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations.

Connected Places Catapult, in collaboration with the DfT, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and industry stakeholders have developed a national UTM framework called the open-access UTM. This program has successfully progressed open-access UTM from concept through to live field trials, demonstrating how UTM could deliver air traffic management services in the future.

“The project has laid the foundations for a national UTM deployment,” says Mark Westwood, chief technology officer, Connected Places Catapult. “Through collaboration with industry stakeholders, the trials demonstrated how UTM supports multiple drone operations in real world scenarios. Connected Places Catapult is proud to be at the forefront of such an integral project shaping the development of commercial drone use in the UK.”

If you would like to find out more, you can watch the recording of the UTM webinar, which took place on June 16 2021, here. You can also download the full report here.

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About Author


Lauren is a regular contributor to Traffic Technology International (TTi) and a freelance technical journalist. Over the past 15 years, she has worked on a wide variety of B2B publications and websites, including a stint as deputy editor of Traffic Technology International from 2014-2016. She has a degree in English from the University of Exeter. Lauren is mum to two busy little girls. She is always in demand!