As a boy, Oliver Leisten built transistor radios so his family could listen to the BBC World Service from their home in Malawi. His interest in electronics led to a career manufacturing antennas that communicate with satellites, allowing data to be transmitted around the globe and for mobile devices to provide navigation for people out and about.
Now, Oliver and his company Helix Geospace are creating advanced antennas that support global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) to help guide unmanned aircraft. He was involved in a recent Future Flight Challenge project – supported by UK Research & Innovation and Innovate UK – to introduce technology for autonomous planes used to transfer mail between islands in Shetland.
He is also taking this technology down to ground level to help ensure that future connected autonomous vehicles can communicate their positions with one another with sufficient accuracy to ensure they avoid collision. To help with this aim, Helix Geospace joined an Intelligent Mobility Accelerator in 2020, delivered by Connected Places Catapult and Wayra UK, the innovation arm of Telefonica.
Helix has since been working alongside a major telecommunications network provider to develop the technology and the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders to help shape future thinking. Oliver’s company now has close to 30 staff including software programmers and procurement specialists and has an ambitious growth plan for the next three years.