Unmanned air system project for south coast

Unmanned aircraft could be used for police and coastal patrol work on Britain’s south east coast as soon as 2012, following the launch of new project that sees BAE Systems working with a range of government bodies.

Nov 29, 2007
By Paul Jacques
Picture: Police Scotland

Unmanned aircraft could be used for police and coastal patrol work on Britain’s south east coast as soon as 2012, following the launch of new project that sees BAE Systems working with a range of government bodies.

Although trials of remote-controlled air vehicles have been carried out by police forces in Britain, this will be the first time that autonomous aircraft will be used by civil bodies in the UK.

The earliest achievable date for UAVs to operate in controlled airspace is 2012, the date currently accepted by the ASTRAEA project (Autonomous System Technology Related Airborne Evaluation and Assessment) – a consortium of major aerospace companies addressing key technological and regulatory issues to open up non-segregated airspace to unmanned autonomous aircraft – and other bodies concerned with the development and certification of UAVs.

The project, called the South Coast Partnership, will see BAE Systems working with Kent Police, Essex Police and the Border and Immigration Agency to ensure UAS are introduced as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Speaking at the launch of the South Coast Partnership, at the Police Aviation Conference 2007 in the Hague, Andrew Mellors, head of Civil Autonomous Systems at BAE Systems, said: “From 2012 fully autonomous unmanned air systems could be routinely used by border agencies, the police and other government bodies.

“These systems will be fully autonomous so that operators task the vehicles and receive the relevant imagery and intelligence direct to the ground control station in real-time.”

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