ATOMICUS drone project takes off

The safe and efficient use of cargo drones in UK airspace to transport items such as medical supplies or aircraft spare parts is a huge opportunity. But the use of commercial drones at airports alongside traditional passenger aircraft is not without its risks.

We’re working with a consortium of partners to help manages those risks and support autonomous drone technology and the wider drone cargo market.

The ATOMICUS project is one of over 40 projects in the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Flight Challenge programme. The project is in phase two of the Challenge, receiving a share of a £30 million grant awarded by the UK government. Across all the Future Flight Challenge phases, the funding for all the projects will total around £125 million.

ATOMICUS aims to:

  • Create and demonstrate the digital infrastructure and operational procedures that will allow unmanned cargo systems to safely and efficiently share airspace and underutilised ground infrastructure with manned aircraft.
  • Develop and demonstrate a concept of operations (CONOPS) and safety case, enabling scalable Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) operation and airport ground operations integration.
  • Demonstrate the ability to provide logistics between airports and potentially airfields, demonstrating the capacity (as part of a planned, sequenced flight, with an allocated slot) to safely operate a drone through controlled airspace to land at a manned airport and arrive at a ‘gate’.

To this end, ATOMICUS has brought together a value chain of key partners across avionics, Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems, ATM data, Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) Service Providers, Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operators and Air Traffic Controller Officers.

You can engage with the project team on Yocova.

Partners and their roles

Cirium – is responsible for leading and driving the project forward, the development of the UTM Core (subset), Supplementary Data Service Provider (SDSP), ATM Data Provider, Data Broker, API & Data Expertise. ​

Neuron Innovations Ltd – Operations & Technology Role: Intra stakeholder trusted data protocols and secure exchange technology implementation with key individuals involved in ARPAS, a serving BA pilot and ATC expert, BVLOS Safety Case specialist

ANRA Technologies UK Ltd – Operations & Technology role: UTM Service Provider (UTMSP), UTM Core (subset), drone operations planning, operational monitoring network Remote ID, and Operator support – NASA, FAA and UK Trial experience.

Distributed Avionics Ltd – Operations & Technology Role: Drone avionics and telemetry provision via ground station and simulation capabilities, currently supporting multiple BVLOS UK trials

University of Southampton (SOTON UAV) – Operations & Expertise Role: Experienced drone operator, flyer, and safety case expertise across multiple BVLOS trials.

Connected Places Catapult – responsible for providing project management expertise and ensuring IUK governance processes are managed. Leading the Safety Case & CONOPs development with Anra, providing expertise of the Open Access UTM Architecture and related artifacts & lead dissemination activities for the project.

Supporting Organisations

Aerospace Wales, Welsh Government, NATS, Guild of Air Traffic Control Officers

You can read our news announcement here.

Watch our simulation trials video below.