SkyBound Rescuer to lead on emergency response drone trials within a key ‘Future Flight’ project that will revolutionise the way people, goods, and services use drone technology. The pioneering project team, dubbed ‘Project XCelerate’, is led by BT and backed by the Government’s Future Flight Challenge Fund.
Drones are changing public safety operations for the better. No emergency service around the world is immune from the public safety benefits of drone technology, from police forces to voluntary search and rescue (SAR) organisations, and more. The drone revolution is one few can ignore.
New emerging technologies are seducing public safety organisations with the promise of reducing search times, improving situational awareness, enhancing team safety, reducing costs, and even the potential of delivering medical supplies ahead of rescue teams. And this is just the beginning. Presently, we are experiencing only a fraction of the lifesaving and public safety potential that drones could someday offer our Emergency Services. This is because, currently, a drone needs to travel in the first response vehicle to the incident site before it can be manually launched and operated.
The true benefits of air support are realised when response times are reduced; the current inability for drones to fly directly to the incident site is impeding this new technology’s potential. A BT-lead consortium ‘Project XCelerate’ has come together – of which SkyBound Rescuer are proud to be included amongst the partners – to enable drones to race ahead of rescue teams and become the first eyes on scene; thus unlocking the next level of the drones for good revolution in the UK. We are excited to announce today that Project XCelerate has been selected by UK Research and Innovation as a winning team of the Future Flight Challenge Fund project, which is backed by the Government’s Industrial Strategy. This successful funding has kick-started the project to revolutionise the way people, goods, and services use drone technology.
In Project XCelerate we will be managing the Emergency Response use cases, which will enable drones to reach emergency incidents ahead of rescue teams to autonomously conduct optimised mission plans based on our research-driven methodologies; enhancing safety, saving cost, saving time, and – most importantly – saving lives.
Gemma Alcock, Skybound Rescuer, CEO
Project XCelerate will establish the UK’s first commercial drone corridor in open and unrestricted airspace, located south of Reading, Berkshire, which will be 8km-long. BT’s strengths in reliable, secure, high bandwidth, low-latency radio and fixed connectivity mean it is ideally placed to lead the consortium. It’s EE mobile network – the biggest and fastest in the UK, and the trusted provider behind the critical Emergency Services Network (ESN) will ensure that a safe commercial drone corridor can be established. BT will combine its experience with Altitude Angel’s leading experience in Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) platforms, together with its operation of the Arrow Drone Zone commercial drone corridor.
UTM is a key enabler to address the safe and efficient integration of drones into airspace. The consortium will demonstrate how drones can operate safely in the same airspace as manned aviation. The flight trials will also explore three key industry use cases across healthcare, emergency response, and infrastructure; to demonstrate the potential benefits to those industries.
SkyBound Rescuer will be managing and delivering the emergency response trials alongside one of the Project XCelerate technology partners, HEROTECH8 – manufacturers of automation stations for drones, whereby you can place your drone into the station which enables the drone to launch, fly, recover, and recharge automatically and safely without human intervention – meaning it can be controlled from anywhere in the world. Together, we will conduct emergency response trials under Project XCelerate and develop software that utilises SkyBound Rescuer’s seven years of research and operational experience to create automated optimised mission plans, to ensure operational effectiveness is achieved.
The two emergency response use cases that have been selected for these trials are road traffic collisions (RTCs) – to 3D map the incident for forensics to reduce road closure times, and search and rescue (SAR) – to locate missing persons faster via drones as an aerial search tool. Both incidents frequently occur across the UK, both require rapid response for maximal effect and the implementation of drones have already produced great lifesaving results across both incidents too; these were amongst the deciding factors for the selection. Not to mention, in the UK, the annual number of RTCs is around 25,500, with SAR incidents for missing persons being approximately 313,000 per annum ; this is a huge cost and time demand for our Emergency Services. Project XCelerate aims to speed up response to these incidents, thus improving survival rates and reducing costs.
It is paramount that Emergency Services and SAR organisations are involved throughout the project to ensure end user requirements are met. SkyBound Rescuer will be responsible for stakeholder engagement with the Emergency Services and SAR organisations throughout the project’s 18-month duration, and we welcome any interested parties to contact us for more information. One key stakeholder that has already been confirmed is Lowland Rescue, a SAR charity that searches for missing vulnerable people on behalf of Police Forces across the UK.
We are delighted to be involved in Project XCelerate. Our 34 Teams across the country provide an invaluable resource to assist the police in finding vulnerable missing persons. This project will develop the use of drones to support our operations and to safeguard the public.
Gareth Pritchard, National chairman of the Association of Lowland Rescue
Besides those already mentioned, other consortium members include drone technology experts from Dronecloud and Skyports, cyber security provider Angoka, and healthcare end user expert DroneStream. We are excited that SkyBound Rescuer is amongst the formidable names within this consortium, and we thoroughly look forward to using this opportunity to save more lives with drones.