Blue Bear Systems Research, in collaboration with the UK’s Cranfield University, is set to develop an experiment corridor for drones in the UK known as National Beyond visual line of sight Experimentation Corridor (NBEC).

The proposed corridor will cover Bedfordshire in England from Blue Bear’s headquarters in Oakley to Cranfield University’s airport.

NBEC will be developed to offer a safe and managed environment for drone and unmanned aircraft experimentation, with an ultimate goal to facilitate the integration of manned and unnamed aircraft in the same airspace.

The corridor will also enable the integration and testing of various technologies, as well as allow the UK to conduct experiments in a number of fields.

Cranfield University Aerospace director Iain Gray said: “The potential of drones and unmanned vehicles to boost UK productivity is well documented and the technology is well developed.

“However, there are understandable regulatory concerns that need to be overcome about how they operate alongside manned aircraft.

“The UK drone industry is going through an exciting evolution and is poised for growth.”

“In partnership with Blue Bear Systems Research, Cranfield is aiming to create an environment which will enable the UK to pioneer the integration of manned and unmanned aircraft.”

Once developed, NBEC will be jointly operated by Blue Bear and Cranfield using their respective systems.

However, other companies will be able to use the corridor to test their unified traffic management (UTM) concepts.

Initially, some portions of NBEC will be 5G enabled in line with the UK’s ongoing Department of Culture, Media and Sport 5G programme, with plans to make the entire corridor 5G enabled in future.

Blue Bear Systems Research managing director Ian Williams-Wynn said: “The UK drone industry is going through an exciting evolution and is poised for growth.

“Operation under BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight), alongside co-operative and non-cooperative air traffic in a managed environment, provides a unique opportunity to maintain the UK at the forefront of drone application development and future adoption.”

Blue Bear is primarily engaged in the development of autonomous and unmanned systems serving both military and civil markets across the globe.