UK govt commissions research into UTM

Connected Places Catapult, the UK government innovation agency for the transport industry and autonomous vehicles, has announced the Open-Access unmanned traffic management project (Open-Access UTM project) for supporting operations of drones below 120 metres.

The research project is expected to pave the way for the operations of commercial drones in the UK.

To achieve its objective, the innovation agency will take the help of a national and international consortium for creating an Open-Access UTM framework for drones.

Commissioned by the UK Department for Transport, the project will continue to prepare the groundwork for a safe flying environment for the operations of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the country. The Open-Access UTM project will aim at facilitating efficient sharing of airspace with normal aircraft and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations of drones.

Connected Places Catapult will work with General Electric’s AiRXOS, Altitude Angel, Collins Aerospace and Wing, and ANRA Technologies to build the first set of the safe and regulated unmanned traffic management capabilities this year.

Connected Places Catapult principal technologist Ajay Modha said: “This is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate a UK-specific UTM ecosystem and represents a key step in lowering the technology and operational barriers for UAS operations.

“A key objective is to demonstrate how this capability can support near term and future markets needs and ambitions. As Phase 2 of the Future Flight Challenge kicks-off, a key aim of this project is to provide greater insight and actionable data to the UAS community who may be tackling UTM for the first time”. 

According to Connected Places Catapult, the Open-Access UTM project will seek the creation of the main architectural features, communications interfaces, and key services that will be assessed via simulations before advancing to field-trials.

The research and development project will consolidate on existing platforms and standards to prepare a developmental system for exploring unmanned traffic management and drone operations. Besides, the Open-Access UTM project will be used for identifying the next steps in research and in enabling knowledge transfer to government and also the industry.

ANRA Technologies UK CEO and founder Amit Ganjoo said: “The UK is rapidly becoming a global leader in advancing commercial drone technologies. We are honoured to have contributed to all Connected Places Catapult Open-Access UTM Research and Development Programmes and are excited to commence live-flight testing in pursuit of a safe, interoperable, and efficient traffic management system.”


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