Air Control Entech has won a £175,000 government grant to advance its offshore drones for the next generation of wireless technology.
The Aberdeen-based firm, which streamed the world’s first live offshore inspection in 2017, already has ROVs, drones and crawlers geared up for 4G.
This grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), through the Future Flight Challenge, will allow Air Control Entech (ACE) to harness the rollout of 5G globally, allowing its vehicles to reach extreme heights and depths quickly, as well as confined spaces, without risk to life.
ACE said the cash will bolster live streaming capabilities between the engineers and the assets being inspected, reducing the number of workers needed offshore.
The company said the asset integrity market is worth around £15bn per year, with use of remote inspection technology expected to grow as the industry digitises and embraces 5G.
Chief operating officer Kieran Hope said: “By using 5G technology, the data from inspections can be downloaded faster, while the data can also be shared in real time.
“This has a huge number of benefits for clients as it allows them to see potential issues sooner due to the reduction in latency 5G brings.”
Mr Hope added that the firm was “delighted” with the funding, which comes after ACE announced a deal with services firm Stork in December, and the launch of a “game-changing” lightweight UAV earlier this month.
UK business minister Paul Scully said: “We’re investing in ambitious projects, like Air Control Entech’s remote digital connectivity, to ensure the aviation industry is championing the latest cutting-edge technology.
“Pioneering research supported by government funding will help the UK build back greener from the pandemic, remain at the forefront of aerospace research and development, and demonstrate global leadership in the next aviation revolution. I look forward to seeing such proposals take flight.”
The Future Flight Challenge is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund run by UKRI.
The grant has been awarded to the company due to Air Control Entech’s ability to develop an integrated aviation system and vehicle technologies that enable new classes of electric or autonomous air vehicles to be developed.