CAA launches Innovation Sandbox for new tech

The CAA has launched a new virtual space in which new technology can be safely tested – the ‘Innovation Sandbox’.

The Sandbox is offering companies the chance to discuss, explore, trial and test emerging concepts, to help the UK’s aviation sector develop.

A new Innovation Team has been set up by the CAA. It is initially funded by a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) grant, whiuch has launched the Innovation Sandbox with six participants:

  • Altitude Angel: a company delivering solutions which enable the safe integration and use of highly automated drones into airspace. Through its airspace management platform, GuardianUTM O/S, it delivers software foundations for safely unlocking the potential of drones.
  • Amazon: a future delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • NATS and Searidge Technologies: air traffic control body NATS and its digital tower partner, Searidge Technologies, are working to implement new technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital air traffic control towers.
  • NBEC Consortium: Cranfield University and its partners, Blue Bear Systems Research, Thales and Vodafone are creating an experimentation corridor that will enable drones and unmanned aircraft fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) by having their locations tracked and thus safely fly in the same airspace as manned aircraft.
  • Nesta Challenges: the Flying High Challenge, part of Nesta Challenges, is a collaborative engagement with cities, technologists, researchers, regulators, government, public services and the public to shape the future of urban drone use in the UK.
  • Volocopter: a company developing electrically powered urban air taxis (#eVTOLs), based on drone technology, to help modern cities solve their increasing mobility issues.

The CAA said its innovation team will work closely with the participants to help them understand how they can meet regulatory requirements.

Tim Johnson, CAA director, said: “The UK is a global leader for aviation innovation and we are excited to be playing our role to support this.

“Public safety remains our number one priority, and our Innovation Sandbox will allow for the creation of world-first technologies, tried and tested in a safe environment.”

Emma Simpson, head of the CAA’s new Innovation Team, added: “We are working to enable innovative ideas and continue to collaborate with the international community, working with industry, for the public.

“These first six participants in our Innovation Sandbox are bringing exciting opportunities for the UK to benefit from in years to come.”

CAA Innovation Hub


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