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London Tech Week

Drone superhighways coming to the UK: BT buys £5M financing stake in this British UTM startup

Altitude Angel drone
Image credits: Altitude Angel

Etc., the incubation team in BT Group’s Digital unit, which boosts the businesses of the future, has entered into a £5 million deal with Altitude Angel, a leading UTM (Unified Traffic Management) technology provider.

The deal will accelerate Altitude Angel’s rollout of its transformative ARROW technology, which detects and identifies drones, while also enabling drones to share the airspace with crewed aviation safely and securely.

Helps build drone superhighways

The round will allow Altitude Angel to accelerate its plans for the Skyway corridor beyond the planned 165 miles to thousands of miles of Skyway infrastructure connecting towns and cities as well as transport and package delivery hubs, across the country, which in-turn will allow the UK to unlock the multi-£billion drone economy.

Both businesses scale the UK drone industry and support the development of the UK’s drone superhighway, set to be the largest and longest network of its kind in the world.

Furthermore, BT Group will provide connectivity, network infrastructure and its scalability experience to deploy and maintain Altitude Angel’s ARROW tower network. It will also be the key reseller of Altitude Angel’s software in addition to providing commercial support for drone deliveries in retail and automated, smart drone inspections of critical infrastructure.

Richard Parker, CEO and founder, Altitude Angel commented, “Combining our ARROW technology, which allows crewed and uncrewed aircraft to share the same skies, safely and securely, with BT Group’s significant communications infrastructure, we can quickly bring ARROW to the masses. This will provide the UK with the first nationwide drone superhighways, unlocking the potential of this new and innovative technology and revolutionising business operations in countless industries.”

Tom Guy, Managing Director, Etc. – BT Group said, “At Etc., we support businesses like Altitude Angel, who have game changing ideas that benefit from BT Group’s scale and our agile approach to growth. This partnership is a natural extension to BT Group’s work building the leading network in the UK, supporting the UTM industry that sits adjacent to our core business.”

Occupies the firm’s board

In addition to boosting the drone economy in the UK, BT Group will take a seat on Altitude Angel’s board, which will be held by Dave Pankhurst, BT Group’s Director of Drones, to drive the partnership forward and deliver against its goals.

Faster, long distance drone deliveries

UTM is the software platform and infrastructure needed to allow drones to fly safely, without a pilot, over large distances. The deal enables Altitude Angel to scale its technology to allow long distance drone flights, supporting the potential for faster delivery of essential and non-essential items and unlocking an industry estimated to be worth £45B by 2030.

The deal is crucial to drone innovation, supporting commercial and retail use cases, and lets drones transform how essential services function, from supporting the emergency services with real-time search and rescue, fast transportation of medical supplies, farming analysis and architectural planning.

More on Altitude Angel

Notably, it is a consortium of businesses to build and develop 165 miles of ‘drone superhighways’ connecting airspace above Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Coventry, and Rugby over the next two years.

Altitude Angel was founded by Richard Parker in 2014 and is headquartered in Reading, UK. He has diverse experience across a range of verticals, coupled with a strong background in software design, technology and cybersecurity ensures Altitude Angel continues to drive innovation in the emerging UTM sector.

It is a 47 member team and is eyeing to grow to nearly 70 by the end of 2023. Also, it is in plans to open a new office opening in the Netherlands.

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