Drones Innovation Community

The Drones innovation community aim to meet monthly to allow staff and researchers to meet and network with people who have similar technology / research interests. The aim is that these innovation communities are self-sustaining, with facilitation provided by Digital Futures

The purpose of the Drones community is to allow UoM researchers to:

  • Present their research and discuss sticking points that the community may be able to help them with
  • Find new collaboration partners from across the University
  • Ask questions within the community so that members can share experience/ideas to save time
  • Share ideas on funding calls that are relevant to the community
  • Share equipment (if free) and resources
  • Discuss technology/methodology advances and provide advice on what to/not to buy
  • Advertise talks that may be of interest to the community & widen participation across campus.

For any queries or further information, please contact matthew.thomas@manchester.ac.uk

If you are interested in this community, you may also be interested in Digital Futures, the University’s interdisciplinary network operating across the whole range of the University’s digital research. Digital Futures brings together over 1400 researchers from different disciplines across all three of the University’s faculties into multidisciplinary communities to tackle important research problems, build critical mass in new and emerging research areas and to work with external stakeholders to support Greater Manchester’s ambitions as a leading digital city.

Past Events

Highlights from the May community meeting:

The most recent Innovation Community meeting featured a talk from Dr Vidyadhar Peesapati titled “Condition Monitoring of High Voltage Assets”.

Vidyadhar gave a very interesting presentation on his work within the High Voltage (HV) labs in the Ferranti Building on North Campus. A recent investment in the HV facility through EPSRC investment means that it is state of the art and will be relocated to the MECD building when that opens next year.

The talk outlined the research carried out by Vidyadhar since he joined the University. He summarised his work in the HV lab including the design and testing of HV systems along with the application of 3D numerical modelling. The technical challenges of the current national power network were outlined relating to an increasing demand on resources and supply of electricity now expected from the network. This is complicated by the age of the assets employed which are all reaching their end-of-life. He highlighted that with increased demand on these networks, the need for understanding possible mechanisms for failure across the system is of great importance.

The successful application of drones to reduce the necessity of human assessment of assets on live networks was discussed. This comes with inherent complications, however, when you consider the high voltages involved, where failure of drones close to HV assets may cause more problems than it solves. A YouTube movie entitled ‘Drones v Lightning’ carried out in the lab can be accessed here.

Discussion after the meeting centred on whether the community could be expanded to include autonomous vehicles and it was agreed that this seemed like a sensible idea.

The attendees were also asked for any pertinent information that they would like included on a survey of research interests and facilities available within the community. There was a general feeling that asking if people would be interested in hosting or attending training sessions on the safe use of drones for researchers occurring possibly once or twice a year would be advantageous.

February community meeting: 

At the February meeting, the community discussed:

  • The Membership of the community
  • Current competitions and funding opportunities
  • RLP workshops that may be of interest

Members spent the majority of time networking with colleagues to discuss collaboration opportunities. 

Two questions raised to the community regarded:

  1. Whether it would be advantageous to invite the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to come to a future meeting as a showcase of the breadth of UAV activity at the University.
  2. If there is enough interest in UAV at the University now to justify applying for funding for dedicated UAV technicians. 

Please let us know your thoughts. 


Slides presented at the meeting are available below:


The first Drones Innovation Community meeting at The University of Manchester, 11 September 2019

We invited current users and interested researchers to a meeting to discuss the use of drones in research across the University. The idea of the community is to share experiences and common interests and discuss ways in which we can work together to better use available resources and generate a multi-disciplinary community that can collaborate internally to then apply for research funding collectively. 

Almost 30 participants from across the university expressed an interest in the meeting from all three faculties and other departments. The meeting was structured to start with an ice-breaker lunch. The meeting started with a brief introduction to the Research Lifecycle Programme from Emma Finch, followed by presentations and a lunch break. After lunch, the community discussed various topics from drone suppliers to sharing equipment.

You can visit our Podcast of the event to catch up on the presentations and discussion (presentation timings are in brackets). 

  • Opening Address (00:00 – 12:04)
    Emma Finch, Innovation Lead at Research Lifecycle Programme
  • Methane flux quantification using UAV sampling (12:05 – 31:20)
    Adil Shah, School of Environment and Earth Science
  • Finding software vulnerabilities in unmanned aerial vehicles (31:20 – 51:37)
    Omar Alhawi, School of Computer Science   
    Unfortunately due to technical difficulties, the slides for this presentation are unavailable.
  • Off to the movies: a field trip in northern England(51:38 – 01:09:44)
    David Hodgetts, School of Environment and Earth Science
  • MAGMA Fluidic Flight Test (01:09:45 – 01:14:06)
    Bill Crowther, School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering
  • After the presentations, the community discussed topics that interested them. This can be listened to on the podcast from 01:14:07