Air Control Entech, the certified remote inspection technology specialist, has been awarded GBP 175,000 by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), through the Future Flight Challenge, to further advance its previously developed 4G technology to 5G.
The grant will be used to bolster and further establish remote digital connectivity for its drones, crawlers and ROV services by providing live stream capability between engineers and the asset being inspected, enabling a reduction in the number of key personnel needed offshore.
Since streaming the world’s first live offshore inspection in 2017, the company has continued to develop its remote maintenance technology and is in a strong position for the rollout of 5G infrastructure globally.
The technological advancement allows for land, sea and air inspection to be carried out remotely, with the ability to reach extreme heights and depths quickly, as well as accessing extremely confined spaces with no risk to life.
The asset integrity market in the UK is worth around GBP 15 billion per annum, and Air Control Entech’s technology has helped critical infrastructure continue to be maintained in a safe and cost-effective way. As the energy industry increasingly digitises and embraces 5G, the utilisation of remote inspection technology continues to grow, and its uses are becoming more widespread thanks to the ongoing development of bespoke payloads.
Kieran Hope, COO at Air Control Entech, says, “Our technology reduces not only the number of people offshore, but also the time spent by key personnel required to work onsite. 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. Our remote inspection technology is also vital in providing a safe and smart offshore work environment for our customers. Thanks to our dedicated R&D department we can keep up with the market demand for product innovation, creating new, more accurate and cost-effective ways to carry out inspection.”
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, our continued technological development has been accelerated, and it is this innovation and drive that has been recognised by UKRI, as well as making us the partner of choice for inspection companies. We are delighted to have been awarded this funding from the Future Flight Challenge, and we are looking forward to continuing to deliver the innovative technology that has become synonymous with Air Control Entech,” adds Hope.
Gary Cutts, Challenge Director for Future Flight, says, “At this very challenging time for the international aviation industry, it is a great testament to the UK’s drive and ambition that we had such a strong response to our COVID-19 competition. Air Control Entech’s work offers the potential for reducing personnel deployments during the pandemic but has wider application in reducing the need for people to work in hazardous environments. The work therefore offers both social benefits and the development of new aviation markets for the UK – very much in the spirit of the Future Flight Challenge.”
Minister for Business, Paul Scully, says, “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,” Scully continues.
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.