Combined Authority seeks public help for drone trials

West Midlands Combined Authority has issued an invitation for interested people to help design drone technology trials in the region.

The combined authority spearheaded a successful submission to the Flying High Challenge, run by Nesta's Challenge Prize Centre in partnership with Innovate UK. Now, after beating off competition from more than a third of UK cities the region is one of only five UK locations starting to explore future use of drone technology to support local needs. Nesta’s Kathy Nostine said:

“This Flying High Challenge is about empowering cities to shape drone systems that place people’s needs first, so we want to seek views from the widest possible selection of interested parties.

“We want to hear from anyone who would like to take part in the initial discussions, where we will explore the potential opportunities and challenges to realising drone use across the West Midlands. It would be great to hear from those who represent community interests.”

The sessions will take place at the WMCA offices in Summer Lane, Birmingham, on Thursday May 17. WMCA and Nesta representatives will lead group discussions and collect ideas and participants’ views will then feed into a regional ‘vision’ on the future of drone use and lay the foundations for effective trials.

These could include exploring the potential to use drones in emergency scenarios such as traffic incidents or to capture real time footage of crime and fires.

Other ideas have focused on how drones could support major events, such as the Coventry City of Culture in 2021 and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Anyone who would like to book a place or find out more should contact Lucy Gosling, from WMCA’s Transport Innovation Team, by Monday May 14, either by email or by calling 0121 214 7929.


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