Browse Catapults
Transport System Catapult - Logo Home

The UK Drones Pathfinder Programme is pleased to announce the addition of a new pathfinder focusing on the early detection of marine activity near nuclear power stations

A revolutionary new project announced today (22nd July) will see Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) used in the early detection of marine ingress events near coastal industries, such as nuclear power stations.

The Cranfield University and EDF pathfinder plans to establish the feasibility of Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations, within a regulatory and safety context for the use of drones near nuclear plants, for early detection of marine (i.e. jellyfish and kelp) ingress. Routine wide area data capture by drones could form part of an early warning system, which will allow the adjustment of water-cooling mechanisms to protect both electricity generation and the environment.

Cranfield University and EDF, one of the UK’s largest energy companies, will deliver this project in partnership with SME Caintech, the Smith Institute and The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The consortium will first optimise wide-area UAS monitoring protocols using statistical and mathematical techniques, which will include an academic review of the benefits of Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS) / BVLOS operations within the context of marine ingress detection. The programme will then undertake BVLOS UAS trials near an EDF nuclear power station later in the year to detect jellyfish and kelp blooms.

 

The project is part of UK Drones Pathfinder Programme, which is sponsored by the Department for Transport (DfT) and takes a phased approach to achieving routine use of drones within the UK, identifying and overcoming the technical, operational, and commercial barriers for bringing new BVLOS services to the UK.

 

Angus Bloomfield, Marine Biology Consultant at EDF said: “Any industry on the coast which uses seawater can find its operations complicated when seaweed or jellyfish blooms impact protective systems. They can damage machinery and even stop power generation, which could threaten stability of the electricity grid. An early warning system involving drones could allow industries in marine environments to act early and avoid the most dramatic effects these events can bring.”

 

Dr Monica Rivas Casado, Senior Lecturer in Integrated Environmental Monitoring at Cranfield University, said: “Marine ingress can be an issue for nuclear power plants as it can affect the intake of water required for operations. The successful operation of BVLOS will enable us to detect threats from marine ingress at an earlier stage and to prevent disruption to the power plant. The development of BVLOS is important step in enhancing the capabilities of environmental monitoring using drones for a varied range of applications. We are extremely grateful to be part of the Drone Pathfinder Programme.”

 

Dr Alex Evans, Mathematical Consultant at the Smith Institute said “It is exciting to see the use of complex and powerful mathematical techniques, in combination with new drone technologies, helping to solve an important industrial problem with such far reaching impacts. It has been a pleasure to support this project and to see the excellent progress made so far as well as the potential for future development.”

 

Craig McDonald, UAV Operations Manager at Caintech said: “We are delighted to be working with Cranfield University and EDF Energy on this project. Having worked on this project alongside Cranfield University from the beginning, it is great to see how it has developed. The implementation of BVLOS will greatly improve the area in which we can cover which in turn will mean we can detect marine ingress earlier.”

 

The Drones Pathfinder Programme is managed by the Connected Places Catapult in partnership with the Department of Transport (DfT) and supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

 

For more information on the programme and Pathfinder projects please visit our dedicated hub.

Media Contact

 

Stephen Lynn
Connected Places Catapult

Stephen.Lynn@cp.catapult.org.uk

+44 7496 437907

Natasha Moore

Connected Places Catapult

Natasha.moore@cp.catapult.org.uk

+44 7741 165015

  

About EDF Energy 

EDF is leading the transition to a cleaner, low emission electric future, tackling climate change and helping Britain reach net-zero. It is the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity, meeting around one-fifth of the country’s demand and supplying millions of customers with electricity and gas.

It generates low-carbon electricity from eight nuclear power stations, more than thirty onshore wind farms and two offshore wind farms, and operates one of Britain’s biggest battery storage units, one gas and one coal power station, EV charge-points, and combined heat and power plants.

EDF is part of EDF Group, the world’s biggest electricity generator. In the UK, the company employs around 13,000 people at locations across England and Scotland.

 

About Cranfield University

Cranfield is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

For the past 50 years, Cranfield has been contributing to enhancing natural capital and ensuring that global food systems are more resilient for the future. We are recognised worldwide by industry, government and academe for our research and teaching in plants, soil, water and air.

We believe that environmental problems can be alleviated through technological innovation and risk management. Cranfield academics are leading a new four-year programme investigating the role of digital data in improving our understanding of environmental change, after being appointed Constructing a Digital Environment Champions by the National Environment Research Council (NERC).

 

Cranfield is a key partner in two of the four UK Government-sponsored Agri-tech Centres – Agri-Epi (Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre) and CHaP (Crop Health and Protection), with over £13 million invested in new infrastructure since 2017. We are world leading in digital agriculture, using advances in sensor technology, informatics and data sciences to drive innovation. We are investing £4 million in a new building and Centre for Environmental and Agricultural Informatics.

Our education, research and consultancy is enhanced by our world-class facilities including the National Reference Centre for Soils, which houses the largest collection of its kind in Europe and is recognised as the UK’s definitive source of national soils information, and our big data visualisation suite, which has tools to analyse big data collections including our own environmental data resources from 280 countries/territories worldwide.

Our living laboratory is a testbed for transformative technologies and new approaches to deliver enhanced social, economic and environmental outcomes in urban, transport and infrastructure systems.

Cranfield is one of six universities receiving UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) funding to establish Urban Observatories as platforms for research into future infrastructure, technology and governance across the social, economic and environmental domains.

In 2017, Cranfield was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for research and education in large-scale soil and environmental data for the sustainable use of natural resources in the UK and worldwide, the first time in the Prize’s history that an award has been given for soil science.

www.cranfield.ac.uk/environmentandagrifood​

  

About Caintech 

Caintech are Land surveyors based in Inverness. As early adopters of Fixed Wing UAVs, Caintechs operational experience of planning and executing large land area surveys is well developed. Using our knowledge and experience, Caintech will develop operational techniques to ensure the safe deployment of UAVs for BVLOS flights near nuclear plants.

 

About the Smith Institute 

Harnessing mathematics, the Smith Institute specialises in solving complex tactical and strategic problems for business and government. We are experts at translating research in the mathematical sciences and applying this to real-world problems.

A team of expert mathematicians with a wealth of industry experience, we work with organisations to develop and in-depth understanding of their domain areas, the challenges they face and the services they need. The Smith Institute uses system engineering, data analysis, algorithm development and model building techniques as a way of gaining maximum understanding.

We help our clients leverage the latest advancements in data science, be it to expand products or services more quickly or secure return on investment. Applying our domain knowledge of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) we design bespoke solutions that streamline organisational processes and accelerate innovation.

With over twenty years’ experience across a wide variety of business sectors, the Smith Institute is expert in optimisation, forecasting, artificial intelligence, and algorithm auditing.

 

About EPSRC

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the main funding body for engineering and physical sciences research in the UK. By investing in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation.

EPSRC is part of UK Research and Innovation, a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

 

About the Connected Places Catapult

The Connected Places Catapult accelerates smarter living and travelling in and between the places of tomorrow. We focus on growing businesses with innovations in mobility services and the built environment that enable new levels of physical, digital and social connectedness. The Connected Places Catapult operates at the intersection between public and private sectors and between local government and transport authorities. We convene the disparate parts of the market to help innovators navigate the complexity of doing business, creating new commercial opportunities and improving productivity, socio-economic and environmental benefits for places. For more information visit cp.catapult.org.uk

 

 

Scroll through the news posts or click HERE to go back to the News page