NESTA Flying High Challenge

Drone technology is advancing rapidly. UK cities now have a unique opportunity to shape this disruptive technology, in order to maximise the economic and social benefits it could bring, whilst ensuring safety.

Led by cities, Flying High will position the UK to become a global leader in shaping drone systems that place people’s needs first.

What are we doing?

The Flying High Challenge will collaborate with up to five cities across the UK to shape the future of drones and drone systems. Run by Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre, in partnership with Innovate UK, the Flying High Challenge is the first programme of its kind to convene city leaders, regulators, public services, businesses and industry around the future of drones in cities.

By collaborating with selected cities, the Flying High Challenge will support cities to develop plans based on local community needs.

The Challenge will:

  • Shape city plans on the future of drones in UK cities, exploring specific applications of drones within cities and hazardous environments.
  • Identify and address key complexities such as technology, infrastructure, law, regulations, safety and privacy.
  • Detail technical and economic plans that unlock market opportunity through regulatory testbeds, open innovation technology challenges and live, real-world demonstrations.

The background

Over the past nine months, we have engaged widely with cities across the UK, central government bodies, the CAA, research and technical bodies and a range of other stakeholders to design this programme. There are four key themes underlying the Flying High Challenge:

  • Technology

Drone technology is advancing rapidly with the potential to perform critical services in everyday city life – from transporting urgent medical supplies to bridge inspection and repair.

  • Cities and people

Cities and people must be at the centre of shaping potential uses for drones and how they may integrate sustainably into communities.

  • Potential impact

Drone systems have the potential to advance cities’ social, economic, transport, environmental and innovation plans.

  • Integration challenges

Drone systems must integrate sustainably and safely within cities and hazardous environments taking into account real-world conditions.