The “Intelligent Drones for Port and Highways Technology” (InDePTH) project, which is part of the “Future Flight Challenge Phase 3” programme, has received government backing, thanks to new funding available via research agency UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to help achieve a vision for UK’s future drone economy.
s part of the project, Associated British Ports (ABP), Kier Highways, Connected Places Catapult, RoboK, Herotech8 and BT are all working together to build and test the use of drones to carry out automatic ‘beyond visual line of sight’ (BVLOS) missions to monitor and control critical national infrastructure such as highways and ports.
Specifically, the project will demonstrate value in three use case areas for ports and highways, including landside port operations and management, marine operations and highway safety and defect inspections.
The ambition for the project is to create efficient, low-carbon, cost-effective solutions for infrastructure management with Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and practically showcase opportunities for ports and highways to use ‘drones as a service’.
Using AI and data analytics, the project will develop the InDePTH platform offering seamless integration from UAS imagery, through operational systems, to actionable insights.
A key aim of the project is to enable near real-time data transfer from capture to insight generation. By doing this, the data gathered by UAS becomes a greater asset to a wider number of end users.
Close collaboration between the two end users ABP and Kier will engage different industries with very similar requirements, sharing best practices and physical demonstrations.
Digital twins of ports and highways will also be built and used with real-time data from drones to give a rich picture of current operations, incidents, and asset condition.
AI will be applied to analyse drone imagery in several use cases, including maritime infrastructure inspection, reactive ad-hoc flights to quickly identify hazards both on land and over water and inspection and auto-classification of safety critical highway defects such as potholes.
If we want to achieve leaps in Digital Transformation for Industry, we must embrace and develop the convergence of emerging innovative technologies, getting them working together seamlessly to deliver for end-users. This project directly tackles that convergence
said Connor Lyons, Innovation Business Partner, ABP.