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Passenger drones are trialling Dubai and Singapore, urban drone deliveries are taking off in Iceland and Switzerland, and companies around the world are refining Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) systems to integrate drones into the airspace, transforming the character of urban centers.
In the UK, airspace and recreational drone flights are becoming increasingly regulated to ease safety concerns and make way for commercial drone applications.
If unmanned autonomous transport does eventually take off, rooftop spaces are going to become precious commodities. A new initiative by a UK startup involves investment in London rooftop spaces with a view to building a drone infrastructure network. The company, Skyports, hopes its ‘vertiports’ will become as ubiquitous in urban centers as dedicated bicycle storage and car parking spaces.
That vision relies on the promise of drone technology becoming a widespread reality in London, for urban deliveries and, eventually, passenger transportation and even urban infrastructure maintenance, according to internetofbusiness.com.
To date, Skyports has purchased the rights to 15 rooftops across the capital, aiming to scale that up to 80 or 100 over the course of the next 18 months. The company offers London landlords to cover the design, planning, and construction costs of any drone infrastructure, as well as paying rent for the space.
The uniquely crowded airspace of London with its multiple airports, however, is a challenge. There are also many police and emergency services flying helicopters over the city. So, adding a network of autonomous flying robots into London’s transport mix isn’t going to be a simple process.
Public trust is another challenge. Jonathan Nicholson, assistant director at the Civil Aviation Authority believes that “Drones are here to stay, not only as a recreational pastime, but as a vital tool in many industries.. As a result, increasing public trust through safe drone flying is crucial”, he said.