UK's Civil Aviation Authority hashing out rules for crash-proof cargo pods on drones

Project wins £50k from government


The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is drawing up guidelines so that crash-proof cargo containers can be attached to drones to transport medical items such as blood samples and vaccines.

The CAA is working with the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) and Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to create a set of minimum safety standards if a drone carrying a container were to be involved in an accident.

The project was given £50,000 by the government as part of a £3.7m funding handout spread around 21 projects announced recently.

If suitable guidelines for an "approved crash protected container" for "dangerous goods" proves successful, it could open the door to commercial operators developing new services.

"The dangerous goods carried could include blood samples and vaccines, but also consumer products such as batteries and cosmetics," said the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in its blurb confirming the award.

This recent funding is the latest government push to develop drone technology while trying to ensure safety for people on terra firma.

Much of the legislation in place at the moment deals with safety concerns should a drone fail mid-flight and minimising risk to people below. This latest project takes those concerns one step further to ensure the structural integrity of any cargo that might fall foul of an unscheduled and bumpy landing.

In April, West Sussex-based sees.ai became the first company in the UK to get CAA approval to test routine beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations.

It is significant because if remote flying – rather than in-the-line-of-sight piloting – gets the nod from regulators, it could potentially pave the way for a new market to develop in logistics. Add on a crash-proof cargo pod and it becomes clear where this testing is potentially heading.

Of course, that's not to say that testing isn't already going on. Last year, remote-control drones were used to deliver coronavirus testing kits to a remote Scottish hospital after being granted special permission from the CAA. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • North Korea pulled in $400m in cryptocurrency heists last year – report

    Plus: FIFA 22 players lose their identity and Texas gets phony QR codes

    In brief Thieves operating for the North Korean government made off with almost $400m in digicash last year in a concerted attack to steal and launder as much currency as they could.

    A report from blockchain biz Chainalysis found that attackers were going after investment houses and currency exchanges in a bid to purloin funds and send them back to the Glorious Leader's coffers. They then use mixing software to make masses of micropayments to new wallets, before consolidating them all again into a new account and moving the funds.

    Bitcoin used to be a top target but Ether is now the most stolen currency, say the researchers, accounting for 58 per cent of the funds filched. Bitcoin accounted for just 20 per cent, a fall of more than 50 per cent since 2019 - although part of the reason might be that they are now so valuable people are taking more care with them.

    Continue reading
  • Tesla Full Self-Driving videos prompt California's DMV to rethink policy on accidents

    Plus: AI systems can identify different chess players by their moves and more

    In brief California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said it’s “revisiting” its opinion of whether Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving feature needs more oversight after a series of videos demonstrate how the technology can be dangerous.

    “Recent software updates, videos showing dangerous use of that technology, open investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the opinions of other experts in this space,” have made the DMV think twice about Tesla, according to a letter sent to California’s Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), chair of the Senate’s transportation committee, and first reported by the LA Times.

    Tesla isn’t required to report the number of crashes to California’s DMV unlike other self-driving car companies like Waymo or Cruise because it operates at lower levels of autonomy and requires human supervision. But that may change after videos like drivers having to take over to avoid accidentally swerving into pedestrians crossing the road or failing to detect a truck in the middle of the road continue circulating.

    Continue reading
  • Alien life on Super-Earth can survive longer than us due to long-lasting protection from cosmic rays

    Laser experiments show their magnetic fields shielding their surfaces from radiation last longer

    Life on Super-Earths may have more time to develop and evolve, thanks to their long-lasting magnetic fields protecting them against harmful cosmic rays, according to new research published in Science.

    Space is a hazardous environment. Streams of charged particles traveling at very close to the speed of light, ejected from stars and distant galaxies, bombard planets. The intense radiation can strip atmospheres and cause oceans on planetary surfaces to dry up over time, leaving them arid and incapable of supporting habitable life. Cosmic rays, however, are deflected away from Earth, however, since it’s shielded by its magnetic field.

    Now, a team of researchers led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) believe that Super-Earths - planets that are more massive than Earth but less than Neptune - may have magnetic fields too. Their defensive bubbles, in fact, are estimated to stay intact for longer than the one around Earth, meaning life on their surfaces will have more time to develop and survive.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022