Award win for project deploying drones and advanced AI

Consortium scoops prestigious award for research and development at robotics ceremony

‘Intelligent Drones for Port and Highways Technology’ (InDePTH) – a project developing and trialling an innovative approach to the monitoring and control of critical national infrastructure – was recognised at the 2023 Robotics and Automation Awards in London.

Nominated for two awards, InDePTH won the award for Best Research & Development Innovation at the ceremony, held at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms.

Connected Places Catapult, alongside Associated British Ports (ABP), Kier Transportation, RoboK and HeroTech8 is part of the InDePTH consortium being led by BT. The consortium is focused on using automated drone technology and advanced AI techniques to create an efficient, low-carbon and cost-effective solution for infrastructure management.

The project aims to trial ‘beyond visual line of sight’ BVLOS flights using automated ‘drone-in-a-box’ technology to regularly survey large infrastructure estates.

The imagery collected from the drone missions will be used to create digital models, and state-of-the-art machine learning will automatically extract insight from the collected imagery; insight that can be used by end users in near real-time.

Project trials are centred around three real-world use cases for ports and highways developed by ABP and Kier, including landside port operations and management, marine operations and highway safety and defect inspections.

“I’m delighted that the Project InDePTH team has been recognised for their excellent work at the Robotics and Automation Awards. InDePTH is an innovative and technically complex project which will revolutionise the autonomous drones service industry, by bringing agile artificial intelligence to a wide variety of customers and industry sectors.”
Andrew Chadwick, Acting Ecosystem Director for Air Mobility & Airports, Connected Places Catapult
“We’re delighted to have won this award which recognises the potential of InDePTH to transform the way operations are conducted in critical national infrastructure and beyond with the use of autonomous drones. One of the judging criteria for the category was collaboration and the way the partners have come together to jointly tackle the demanding use cases that InDePTH is focussing on really shone through to the judges in our presentation.”
Alistair Duke, Research Manager – Networks, BT Group on behalf of the InDePTH consortium

InDePTH forms part of the Future Flight Challenge Phase 3 programme, delivered by Innovate UK and funded by UK Research and Innovation which aims to help develop the country’s future drone economy.

Flights are taking place at the Port of Ipswich, owned and operated by ABP, to show how drones could help improve asset and inventory management, as well as oversee offshore surveillance and maritime operations.

InDePTH is also deploying drones to continuously assess the surface quality of roads within the port on behalf of Kier, in an effort to spot defects early, which – if used on highways – could improve safety and wellbeing for roadworkers.

Trials of the technology will continue over the remainder of the project, evaluating the technology against the use cases identified by ABP and Kier, and working towards developing a market-ready solution in terms of both the technology and business models.

You can find out more about the consortium partners and their role in the project on our project page and in our project video.