Latest drone development could aid construction

By Mike Hayes21 April 2021

Trials of UAV flights ‘Beyond Visual Line of Sight’ are given the green light in the UK

Flying complex drone missions from a central control room

Sees.ai, a developer of command and control solutions for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, has been authorised to trial a concept for flying UAVs beyond visual line of sight.

Up to this point, drones have had to remain within line of sight of operators, potentially hampering their benefits to the construction industry.

Now, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has given permission for trial flights to take place at three nominated sites. If the trials prove successful, says Sees.ai, the door could be opened for wider approval for beyond visual line of sight (BVLS) flights.

During the trials, the drones must remain at altitudes of under 46m, initially with an observer remaining in sight of the machine, who can report back to the remote pilot if necessary.

According to Sees.ai, the tests will include drones undertaking routine inspection and monitoring of selected industrial sites.

Working with the CAA, technology companies such as Sees.ai are aiming to improve safety with solutions including automatic detection and avoidance systems.

Data gathered from the trial flights will be used to inform risk and hazard assessments and potentially identify whether or not the Sees.ai system could be taken forward to more challenging flight scenarios.

John McKenna, CEO at sees.ai said, “We are accelerating towards a future where drones fly autonomously at scale – high up alongside manned aviation and low down inside our industrial sites, suburbs and cities.

“Securing this UK-first permission is a major step on this journey which will deliver big benefits to society across public health & safety, efficiency and environmental impact. We are hugely grateful to the CAA’s innovation & regulatory teams for their support and guidance in helping us reach this significant milestone and we look forward to working with them as we continue to advance what’s safe and possible.”

David Tait, Head of Innovation at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said, “Our innovation team was set up to meet the rapid pace of technological advances in the UK, so to see businesses like sees.ai thriving and creating world-leading solutions that will benefit infrastructure and markets is really exciting.”

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