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Qinetiq to organise civil UAV demonstrations

UK defence and security technology company Qinetiq is encouraging unmanned air vehicle technology developers to demonstrate systems to potential civil users next month. The demonstrations are for platforms and payloads and their use in non-military roles.

The Welsh Development Agency’s (WDA) UAV centre in ParcAberporth will host the operational demonstrations in April. Developers with technologies for datalink security, radio-frequency spectrum management and sense- and-avoid systems are of most interest because they deal with obstacles that need to be overcome to enable UAVs to operate in civil airspace.

The obstacles are other aircraft, insecure ground-to-UAV communication and radio-frequency interference. So far up to seven small UK UAV companies have been contacted, but the demonstration opportunity is also open to non-UK companies. “We want to help [users and developers] work together,” says Qinetiq’s UAV test and evaluation programme manager Andrew Chadwick.

Qinetiq’s contract with the WDA ends in May, but Chadwick expects his company to try to sustain the number of demonstrations beyond that. The contract could also see preliminary work conducted for some UAVs to be certificated for use in civil airspace.

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