5 UK Cities to Test Drones in Urban Environments

A UK innovation incubator selected five cities to work with drone manufacturers and test drones in urban environments.

Editor's Note: Updated February 12, 2018. Nesta has announced that Bradford, London, Preston, Southampton and the West Midlands have been selected to test drones in city environments.

According to The Telegraph, five towns and cities in the United Kingdom would be selected for the Flying High Challenge to test drones for civilian use, with testing beginning sometime in 2019.

The cities could test delivery of medical supplies, monitor traffic or support public safety services. The effort comes along with a national Drone Bill under the Department for Transport that will give UK law enforcement agencies the ability to order drone operators to ground their craft, and impose potential height restrictions for hobby flight.

Tris Dyson, of Nesta, the innovation foundation reviewing the applicants and running the challenge, said: “If we are going to have drones in our towns and cities they must be fit for our society," adding that cities need to commit to finding approaches that work at the local level, without risk to public safety.

According to the Nesta website, Flying High Cities will develop drone visions and strategies specific to their communities, and get technical support from a full-time Nesta team as well as government officials. The project involves community engagement on use of drones.

Dyson noted in a Nesta blog post that cities will be in the driver's seat on this. They will sit down with drone companies to solve challenges and offer opportunities to test drones in urban environments.

The contest website said cities would be informed on February 1, 2018, but public announcement of selection is pending.

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