UK Drones Pathfinder Programme broadcasts a pathfinder targeted on early detection of marine exercise close to nuclear energy stations – Drones Information


In a revolutionary new project announced today (July 22), Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are being used to early detect marine entry events near coastal industries such as nuclear power plants.

Cranfield University and EDF Pathfinder plan to assess the feasibility of BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) operations within the framework of regulations and security for the use of drones near nuclear power plants for the early detection of marine intrusion (i.e. jellyfish and seaweed). The routine collection of large-scale data by drones could be part of an early warning system that can be used to adjust water cooling Mechanisms to protect electricity generation and the environment.

Cranfield University and EDF, one of the UK’s largest energy companies, will conduct this project in partnership with SME Caintech, the Smith Institute and with financial support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The consortium will initially optimize the large-scale UAS monitoring protocols using statistical and mathematical techniques. This also includes an academic review of the benefits of EVLOS / BVLOS (Extended Visual Line of Sight) operations as part of the detection of sea intrusions. The program will then run BVLOS UAS trials near an EDF nuclear power plant later in the year to detect jellyfish and seaweed blooms.

The project is part of the UK Drones Pathfinder program, sponsored by the Department for Transport (DfT), which is taking a step-by-step approach to achieving the routine use of drones in the UK and the technical, operational and commercial barriers to the introduction of new drones to identify and overcome BVLOS services to the UK.

Angus Bloomfield, EDF marine biology consultant, said: β€œAny coastal industry that uses sea water can find its job complicated when kelp or jellyfish blooms affect protective systems. They can damage machines and even stop power generation, which could endanger the stability of the power grid. An early warning system with drones could enable marine industries to act early and avoid the most dramatic effects of these events. “

Dr. Monica Rivas Casado, a lecturer in integrated environmental monitoring at Cranfield University, said: β€œThe intrusion of marine life can be a problem for nuclear power plants because it can affect the water intake required for operation. The successful operation of BVLOS will enable us to identify threats from the intrusion of ships at an earlier stage and to prevent malfunctions in the power plant. The development of BVLOS is an important step to improve the possibilities of environmental monitoring with drones for a variety of applications. We are very grateful to be part of the Drone Pathfinder program. “

Dr. Alex Evans, math consultant at the Smith Institute, said: β€œIt is exciting to see how complex and powerful mathematical techniques are used in combination with new drone technologies to solve an important industrial problem with such far-reaching implications. It was a pleasure to support this project and to see the excellent progress made so far and the potential for future developments. “

Craig McDonald, UAV Operations Manager at Caintech, said: β€œWe are delighted to be working with Cranfield University and EDF Energy on this project. After working on this project at Cranfield University from the start, it’s great to see how it developed. The implementation of BVLOS will significantly improve the area in which we can cover, which in turn means that we can detect the intrusion of seas earlier.

The Drones Pathfinder program is managed by the Connected Places Catapult in collaboration with the Department of Transport (DfT) and supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

More information about the program and Pathfinder projects can be found at:

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