ASTRAEA UAV update

Members of the ASTRAEA (Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation & Assessment) programme have delivered a progress report to south west businesses


Members of the ASTRAEA (Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation & Assessment) programme have delivered a progress report to south west businesses.



Nearly 100 SMEs gathered to meet key players involved in the ASTRAEA at the first national conference of its kind in Bristol. They included Warrior (Aero-Marine) of Salisbury, Wiltshire, which is already contracted to provide a test platform for the programme’s demonstration project, led by Flight Refuelling, based in Wimborne, Dorset.



The event highlighted the progress that ASTRAEA has made in addressing the technological and regulatory barriers to the UAV market, which promises to offer considerable public benefits, particularly in the areas of safety and security. This includes ‘blue light’ emergency and rescue services, logistics, environmental monitoring and transport management.



A number of issues were raised during the conference including the consortium’s ambition to see UAVs flying in non-segregated, UK civil airspace by 2012.



Graham Harrison, head of sectors at the South West RDA said: ‘South west England‘s SMEs are of great significance to the programme and have already generated over £5m of investment. Of the 75 SMEs working on the ASTRAEA programme, 15 are based in the region. We are keen to ensure businesses based here have an understanding of the technology advancements and have access to these markets and use their expertise in as many ways as possible.’



James Labouchere, of Warrior (Aero-Marine), said: ‘The conference showed an incredible teaming effort between many companies, all working in good faith. The effect of the ASTRAEA programme in bringing the certification goals closer on one side, and maturing the associated capabilities on the other, is an ideal combination for chasing early solutions. Further, with particular input from Flight Refuelling, the programme has helped Warrior establish working practices to enable us to do business with prime contractors.’



‘We hope we will be able to make a difference in offering up the GULL UAV platform, which is a Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) amphibious seaplane suited to operation in a very wide range of wind conditions. Able to operate from both land and water, it increases the number of options for launch and recovery and extends the scope for UAV applications in combining surface and aerial functions at destination. It may help ASTRAEA objectives in trialling technologies and establishing practice offshore.’