Future Flight InDepth

How can drones be used beyond visual line of sight to unlock new ways to monitor and control critical national infrastructure such as highways and ports? The InDePTH project aims to find out.

The Intelligent Drones for Port and Highways Technology project, InDePTH, forms part of the Future Flight Challenge Phase III programme delivered by Innovate UK on behalf of UKRI. The consortium consists of six partners: BT, Robok, HeroTech8, ABP, Kier and Connected Places Catapult. The group has brought together a range of new technologies and innovative solutions, experience in Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D) projects and domain knowledge to deliver against this national challenge. 

Together, the project team will build and test the use of drones to carry out automatic ‘beyond visual line of sight’ (BVLOS) missions to monitor and control critical national infrastructure such as highways and ports. Specifically, the project will demonstrate value and commercial benefit in 3 use cases for ports and highways, including but not limited to asset management and infrastructure inspection. 

In the next 12 months, the team will gather requirements and key performance indicators (KPIs) for the use cases and begin the design and prototyping of the technical solutions:

  • Use Cases Definition and Requirements (September 2022) 
  • Testing and Demonstrations (March 2023-September 2023) 
  • Dissemination events (July 2023 and Summer 2024) 
  • Business case (March 2024) 

Who is involved?

The partners are: 

  • BT (Lead) 
  • Robok 
  • HeroTech8 
  • ABP 
  • Kier 
  • Connected Places Catapult 

An introduction to the Intelligent Drones for Port and Highways Technology (InDePTH) project by the consortium.

Project Updates

On Tuesday 18 July, the InDePTH Year 1 event was held at Connected Places Catapult’s London office to showcase progress and learnings made by the consortium to date. The event included two workshop sessions to engage with supportive stakeholders which consisted of a range of government representatives, regulators and industry players.

The three key objectives of this workshop were to 1) better understand the various stakeholders’ desired outcomes for InDePTH’s vision, 2) explore opportunities available that can support with the commercialisation of the InDePTH solution, and 3) identify any potential barriers that could impact our ability to leverage the identified opportunities.

The outputs of these learnings and our recommendations will be presented in future project work.

Robotics and Automation Awards 2023

Project InDePTH is a finalist in the Robotics and Automation Awards 2023 for the Applied Technologies award in the category of ‘Best use of Drones’ as well as the R&D Innovation award in the category of ‘Research & Innovation’. The awards recognise projects that showcase the innovative application of robotics or automation. InDePTH combines both aspects to demonstrate the value of autonomous drones in various use cases across Ports and Highways. The winners will be announced the Robotics and Automation Awards dinner on 31 October in London.