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Nesta Launches Programme to Show Drones’ Benefits


Nesta wants to make the positive case for drones via

Nesta has chosen four UK cities as testing grounds for drone tinkerers eager on testing new devices and figuring out how drones could bring value to business.

London, Preston, Bradford, and Southampton, besides the West Midlands, have been picked as testing areas for the technology charity’s Flying High challenge, which aims to “explore the public attitudes, environmental impact, logistics and safety of drones operating in complex urban environments”.

“The challenge will detail technical and economic plans that unlock market opportunity through regulatory testbeds, open innovation technology challenges and live, real-world demonstrations,”  Nesta website explains.

The organisation proposes that drone fans explore four possible areas of application: inspection (as in reconnaissance  of a dangerous or hazardous area); surveillance; deliveries of goods ; and repairs to city infrastructures (from cracks on bridges to damaged potholes.)

The project’s general idea is to spur creative people to find new ways of harnessing the drone revolution, and in the same breath show the British public and institutions how drones can concretely benefit society.

Commenting on the initiative, Aviation minister Baroness Sugg suggested that the government and Nesta are on the same page when it comes to innovating with drones.

“Government is doing everything possible to harness the huge potential through our Industrial Strategy and Drones Bill,” she said in a statement.

In fact the Drones Bill— not yet presented to Parliament— can hardly be construed as encouraging drone experimentation: it would require that all British drone hobbyists register their devices in an official government list, and take safety awareness tests in order to fly unmanned vehicles over 250 grams of weight.

Drones over 250g—that most professional and recreational drones, apart from the cheapest toy versions—might also be banned altogether from flying near airports or above 121 metres (400 ft) of altitude, with the aim of avoiding collisions with airliners.


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