SafeZone: A dynamic safe zone system for autonomous urban flight

Lead Participant: Zenotech Ltd

Abstract

High-tech SMEs Zenotech and FlareBright are working to deliver safer and more effective UAVs for use in urban environments via a new aerodynamic data service. SafeZone combines high fidelity air flow simulation for the built environment from Zenotech, with in-situ validation from the FlareBright nano drone SnapShot.

This world-first project is supported by Innovate UK as part of the Future Flight programme, as well as the Welsh Government via the direct involvement of Cardiff Airport and Saint Athan Airport as live test sites for the project demonstration campaigns. Heathrow Airport have also confirmed interest in the technology development programme.

Zenotech develops cloud high-performance computing and computational fluid dynamics technology for the aerospace, automotive, civil and renewable energy sectors. Zenotech delivers simulation securely at scale for organisations of all sizes offering faster, more accurate and cost-effective solutions by exploiting the latest hardware for power and efficiency. From acoustics capacity and noise reduction in aircraft to the optimisation of wind turbines, Zenotech's tools and technical consultancy are designed to enhance business performance and improve sustainability.

SafeZone makes use of two of Zenotech's existing products: zCFD is a cost-effective, efficient, scalable computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solver bridging the gap between commercial and open source. This innovative, pay-on demand tool delivers high fidelity, unlimited CFD, offering an easier route to coupling multi-disciplinary capabilities and integrating third-party data sources. EPIC connects end users to a global range of cloud high performance computing resources from multiple back-end suppliers. EPIC enables access to unlimited resources on a pay as you go model without capital expenditure. EPIC can initiate and scale jobs anywhere in minutes, as a simple submission interface to specialist supercomputing resources or a tool to quickly and easily launch HPC clusters in the cloud.

FlareBright is a UK-based Small Business who were winners of Phase 1 of Future Flight, and have been an active participant in Future Flight and aerospace forums. The company has six employees, and all are leading experts in their fields with decades of experience, supported by numerous advisors and supporters. FlareBright has raised over £100,000 of equity funding during the height of the Covid-19 crisis in April and May 2020, which complements £350,000 the founders have invested in this business.

FlareBright has created machine learning, fully autonomous, flight-control software, with implementation in small fixed wing gliding drones. The software autonomously controls flight without utilising GPS or any electromagnetic (radio / microwave etc) communications. Four products / projects stem from the same machine learning software base:

1. An image capture nano drone, SnapShot
2. A precision-guided aerial delivery drone
3. A fail-safe emergency drone guidance system when GPS and any other communication links fail
4. Simulation expertise, manifesting as consultancy and Test and Evaluation products

SnapShot is an image capture nano drone (85 grams weight) which autonomously returns to its user following a 100m altitude loop flight at the single touch of a button, which this project is adapting for use as a wind data sensor and collector. The customer need is for the simplest, smallest, lightest and most cost-effective way of obtaining this data set, so the idea is that anyone can have this in their pocket for immediate deployment and in a safe and controlled manner during a 10 to 20 second flight. SnapShot has been tested in winds of over 30 knots and is expected to perform well in even stronger winds.

FlareBright has excellent market traction as demonstrated by competitions won, letters of support and interest from leading Tier 1 aerospace and defence companies.

The partners are delighted to be working together on advanced data service systems for next-generation Future Flight.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Zenotech Ltd, CHEPSTOW £225,519 £ 157,863
 

Participant

Flare Bright Ltd £271,840 £ 190,288

Publications

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