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DTI backs unmanned aircraft programme

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The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is to provide funds for the development of unmanned aviation vehicles to support public services.

The DTI announced that it would provide £16m to support a national programme for the safe operation of unmanned aircraft in civil airspace without the need for restrictive or specialised operational conditions.

It forms part of the £32m Astrae, (Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation and Assessment) programme.

Among the services that the vehicles could support are police and fire service surveillance, coastal surveillance and power and pipeline inspections. These currently rely on manned aircraft.

Secretary of state for trade and industry Alistair Darling said: "Astrae is a significant programme for the UK in establishing our credentials in the rapidly growing field of UAV development. It will strengthen collaboration across industry, universities, and regulatory authorities, positioning the UK amongst the world's leaders in UAV technology.

"This programme is an example of how leading private sector businesses and universities can work with government to deliver projects, which will lead to developments offering real economic and cost-effective solutions in areas such as environmental monitoring and security.

"Astrae also represents a good example of collaboration between DTI and the regional bodies supporting technology programmes which will provide knowledge transfer and employment opportunities in the regions."

The programme has also received £11m from the regional development agencies in the south west, south east and north west, and devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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