UK Aims To Own World’s Biggest Automated Drone Superhighway

The UK is set to become home to the world’s largest automated drone superhighway within the next two years.

The drones will be used on the 164-mile Skyway project connecting towns and cities, including Cambridge and Rugby.

It is part of a £273m funding package for the aerospace sector which will be revealed by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng on Monday.

Other projects include drones delivering mail to the Isles of Scilly and medication across Scotland.

Mr Kwarteng is to announce the news at the Farnborough International Airshow – the first to be held since 2019.

He will say the funding will “help the sector seize on the enormous opportunities for growth that exist as the world transitions to cleaner forms of flight”.

Dave Pankhurst, director of drones at BT, said Skyway is about scaling up trials that have been taking place around the UK.

BT is one of the partners involved in the collaboration.

“This drone capability has existed for quite some time, but is in its infancy in terms of being actually part of our society and being a usable application,” he said.

“So for us, this is about taking a significant step towards that point. It’s going to open up so many opportunities.”

Skyway aims to connect the airspace above Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Coventry and Rugby by mid-2024, and will receive more than £12m.

A total of £105.5m of the government’s funding will be specifically for projects relating to “integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies”, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as drones.

These projects include a plan to use drones to provide regular deliveries of mail and medicine to the Isles of Scilly, and to distribute medicines across Scotland, potentially enabling some cancer patients to be treated in their local community.

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