Funding will support further trials and regulatory work with Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
London, UK – 9th August 2022: Windracers has won a third round of successful funding from the Future Flight challenge at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to conduct further rigorous testing of its middle mile logistics drones and high-reliability autopilot technology.
Future Flight is accelerating the progress of new technologies, social insight, and advanced aviation solutions to deliver the third revolution in aviation. The Phase 3 projects from the Future Flight challenge, which range from hydrogen-powered planes to airspace management systems, share £73 million in funding to develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies.
Windracers has conducted a series of trials in partnership with Royal Mail as part of the Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (SATE) project funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), including test flights on the Shetland Islands and Orkney Islands. The new funding will allow Windracers to extend trials across more locations in Scotland and collaborate with the Civil Aviation Authority in developing a safe and robust regulatory environment for autonomous flight.
Separately, Windracers is leading a project called Protecting Environments with UAV Swarms. This project is supported by NERC British Antarctic Survey and Lancashire Fire and Rescue, and aims to demonstrate how swarms of large UAVs can be used to efficiently carry out Antarctic research and fight fires in some of the most challenging environments on the planet.
“We are extremely proud to be among this world-class group of companies that are developing the technology and infrastructure for autonomous flight,” comments Charles Scales, CEO at Windracers Limited. “The UK has a long history of innovation in aviation and boasts a highly competent and pragmatic regulatory authority. Combined with recognition and support from the UK Government, we are very well placed to lead the industrialisation of drone technology worldwide.”
With a capability to fly in difficult weather conditions, Windracers’ twin-engine UAV has a wingspan of 10 metres and is capable of carrying a payload of 100kg over 1000km. It incorporates a high-reliability autopilot system provided by Distributed Avionics, using their proprietary Masterless™ control architecture. The entire aircraft has been developed using a Zero Single Point of Failure philosophy, being robust to flight control and flight system failures.
Windracers’ cost effective cargo drones have proved to be popular with logistics companies. The company recently announced a partnership with Royal Mail to establish more than 50 new postal drone routes over the next three years, subject to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approval. Royal Mail expects the lower-emission drones will reduce its carbon footprint while improving the reliability of island mail services which are often affected by bad weather. In testament to the potential of logistics drones, Royal Mail’s ambition is to deploy a fleet of more than 500 Windracers ULTRA drones servicing all corners of the UK.
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About Windracers Group Ltd
Windracers – delivering essential logistics anytime, anywhere. Building on the history and tradition of aviation innovation in the UK, Windracers designs and builds drones that specialise in the delivery of essential air mail, parcel, and aid logistics. Windracers’ drones are the most cost effective and reliable air mail and parcel delivery solution on the market without compromising safety.
At the core of its service is the Windracers ULTRA – a robust vehicle with a capacity to carry a 100KG over 1,000KM. Its unique design enables it to take off and land from short unprepared locations, while the use of sustainable materials, latest in engine technology and unique aerodynamic design makes it 30% more carbon efficient when compared to similar crewed aircraft solutions. In addition, the aircraft is controlled through a market leading autopilot and systems – Masterless™ – developed by its sister company, Distributed Avionics.
With this technology Windracers offers a complete service experience, making point to point operation and maintenance easy, safe and cost effective, while offering unprecedented value to its end customers.