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SafeZone phase three

Consortium Mission

The project will investigate localised aerodynamic meteorological data to allow unmanned aerial vehicles to adapt their route as they fly through wind changes and close to buildings at Cardiff Airport. It will also create a live data service providing real-time information about aero hazards in the urban landscape, making drone flight more commercially viable and safer.

Consortium Details


Wind modelling of urban and airport sites is a crucial element in the new landscape of UAV operation and data systems. SafeZone Phase 3 (SZP3) builds on the success of the Phase 2 SafeZone project partnership between UK SMEs Zenotech and FlareBright adding Cardiff Airport and Cranfield University as full project partners.

Zenotech is specialist in large-scale high-fidelity computer-based aerodynamic modelling, with software products zCFD (hybrid finite volume and high order finite element computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solver designed for use at scale on modern many-core hardware and GPUs), EPIC (platform allowing easy and secure access to numerous high performance and cloud computing resources) and AIRSIGHT - an integrated online service delivering large airspace model datasets on-demand.

FlareBright has developed the SnapShot nanodrone that accurately measures wind vectors at exceptionally high update rates (100s of Hertz) and high fidelity, and has previously received CAA approval to fly airside at Cardiff Airport. SnapShot can reach areas where anemometers can't and is significantly cheaper and provides more accurate data than LIDAR.

Cranfield University joins the consortium to generalise the aerodynamic risk characterisation with mitigation strategies. Cardiff Airport is directly involved in the project - both as a facilities provider with the support of its operations team, and as an end user for the autonomous inspection drones enabled by the project.

In Phase 2, live flight trials using SnapShot at Cardiff Airport were used to validate the aerodynamic data service, including the detection and quantification of detailed aerodynamic features (vortices) in addition to gross features (airflow around the buildings) using the SnapShot flight controller as a mobile anemometer. The Phase 2 project successes have been disseminated via local media, conference presentations (RAeS, Smart Cities). The team has also provided large open datasets to support KTN Industrial Maths Virtual Study Group on data analysis and compression.

SZP3 will further develop the technical and regulatory requirements with the CAA for the safe operation of drones. Social acceptance of drone flights in proximity to buildings will be promoted via public communications and dissemination.SZP3 will produce large amounts of wind field data, available on-demand via the AIRSIGHT platform. In addition to the project datasets, we will provide all other Phase 3 projects with free access to an online AIRSIGHT dataset for a neutral site.

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