Car­go drone devel­op­er Win­drac­ers has achieved a suc­cess­ful third round of fund­ing from UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Future Flight chal­lenge, a pro­gram that finances tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ments, reports

Future Flight’s phase 3 projects share UKP73 mil­lion in fund­ing for the devel­op­ment of inte­grat­ed avi­a­tion sys­tems and new vehi­cle technologies.This new round of finan­cial back­ing enables Win­drac­ers to car­ry out addi­tion­al tri­al­ing of its mid­dle-mile logis­tics drones and autopi­lot tech­nol­o­gy.

Along­side part­ner Roy­al Mail, the drone com­pa­ny has com­plet­ed a series of tri­als as part of the UKRI-fund­ed Sus­tain­able Avi­a­tion Test Envi­ron­ment (SATE) project. As part of the project, Win­drac­ers con­duct­ed test flights on the Shet­land Islands and Orkney Islands. With this new cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion, the com­pa­ny will be able to car­ry out addi­tion­al tri­als across fur­ther loca­tions in Scot­land, as well as work with the CAA (Civ­il Avi­a­tion Author­i­ty) to for­mu­late a safe reg­u­la­to­ry envi­ron­ment for autonomous flight.

Charles Scales, CEO of Win­drac­ers, com­ment­ed “We are extreme­ly proud to be among this world-class group of com­pa­nies that are devel­op­ing the tech­nol­o­gy and infra­struc­ture for autonomous flight. Com­bined with recog­ni­tion and sup­port from the UK Gov­ern­ment, we are very well placed to lead the indus­tri­al­i­sa­tion of drone tech­nol­o­gy world­wide.”

Win­drac­ers’ twin-engine UAV, pos­sess­es a 10 metre wingspan and max­i­mum pay­load capac­i­ty of 100kg over 1000km. The air­craft is able to oper­ate even dur­ing harsh weath­er. The craft makes use of a Dis­trib­uted Avion­ics’ high-reli­a­bil­i­ty autopi­lot sys­tem and Mas­ter­less™ con­trol archi­tec­ture. The UAV was devel­oped with a Zero Sin­gle Point of Fail­ure phi­los­o­phy, allow­ing it to adapt to flight con­trol and flight sys­tem fail­ures.

Win­drac­ers recent­ly announced a part­ner­ship with Roy­al Mail that will estab­lish over 50 new postal drone routes over the course of the next three years, sub­ject to CAA approval. Roy­al Mail intends to reduce its car­bon foot­print using the low­er-emis­sion drones, while improv­ing the reli­a­bil­i­ty of island mail ser­vices which can be impact­ed by bad weath­er. Roy­al Mail seeks to utilise a fleet of over 500 Win­drac­ers ULTRA drones through­out the UK.

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The drone com­pa­ny is also lead­ing a sep­a­rate project called ‘Pro­tect­ing Envi­ron­ments with UAV Swarms’. With sup­port from NERC British Antarc­tic Sur­vey and Lan­cashire Fire and Res­cue, the goal of the project is to exem­pli­fy the appli­ca­tion of swarms of large UAVs in con­duct­ing Antarc­tic research and com­bat­ing fires in some of the world’s harsh­est envi­ron­ments.

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(images: Win­drac­ers)