Loughborough University London to help shape how drone technology is used in the capital

Loughborough University London is to help shape how drone technology is used in the city, it has been announced.

Nesta, the innovation foundation based in the UK, has revealed the five cities and districts spanning the country that will be the first to design how drone technology could be used to support their needs.

The announcement follows an open call in November, where over a third of UK cities bid for a place on the Flying High Challenge, run by Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre in partnership with Innovate UK.

Bradford, London, Preston, Southampton and the West Midlands will now work with the Flying High team over the next five months to look at how drones could be used in their communities.

From using drones to support public services to the commercial opportunities that might exist, they’ll explore the public attitudes, environmental impact, logistics and safety of drones operating in complex urban environments.

London has already experienced the initial use of drones for safer infrastructure inspections and helping the capital’s emergency services.

It now needs to identify what steps are required to ensure the use of drones benefits the city and support its ‘Healthy Streets’ approach for London’s future.

The competition application that secured London as one of the five winning cities was led by Transport For London (TFL) and supported by Loughborough University London.

The application outlined a strategic task force that will ensure learnings are relevant and useful to the city as a whole.

The task force comprises TFL, the Greater London Authority, key organisations, national bodies, emergency services and academics from a handful of universities including Loughborough University London.

Professor Mike Caine, Dean of Loughborough University London, commented: “Loughborough University from its London campus will support Transport For London and its consortium with a deep understanding of policy and experienced applied research into this emerging sector.

“The five UK task forces will be instrumental in allowing beyond-line-of-sight autonomous UAV ‘drones’ to be adopted by many industries, including emergency services and delivery logistics firms, in a safe and public-focused way.” 

Michael Hurwitz, TFL’s director of transport innovation, said: “Being part of Nesta’s Flying High Challenge will allow us to initiate a responsible, safety-first and collaborative approach to investigating the future of drones in London.

“We want to understand the risks, concerns and opportunities of this rapidly evolving area, and to identify what steps are needed to ensure the use of drones benefits the city and supports our ‘Healthy Streets’ approach for London’s future.”

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2019 QS World University Rankings, University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019 and top in the country for its student experience in the 2018 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2020, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 and 8th in The UK Complete University Guide 2020.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Specialising exclusively in postgraduate-level study, Loughborough University London is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers cutting-edge master’s and PhD degrees, as well as business collaboration, research and enterprise opportunities.

The seven specialist institutes at Loughborough University London include: Design Innovation, Digital Technologies, Diplomacy and International Governance, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, International Management, Media and Creative Industries, and Sport Business. Close industry partnerships with a wealth of leading businesses and creative organisations means teaching and learning is informed by real-life challenges and driven by true industry pressures.