Altitude Angel has been backed with £5 million investment from Etc., the incubation team in BT Group’s digital unit.

The companies said the deal would support “the development of the UK’s drone superhighway”.

Altitude Angel, seventh on our TransportTech 50 ranking late last year, is a unified traffic management technology provider behind the infrastructure needed to allow drones to fly safely, without a pilot, over large distances. 

It will now accelerate the rollout of its ARROW technology, which detects and identifies drones, while also enabling drones to share the airspace with crewed aviation safely and securely.

It could support the potential for faster delivery of essential and non-essential items; support the emergency services with real-time search and rescue, as well as fast transportation of medical supplies; and also assist with farming analysis and architectural planning.

Following the earlier success of Project Xcelerate, a consortium led by BT Group and Altitude Angel, the relationship has continued to grow under Project Skyway, the largest and longest network of drone superhighways in the world, which is backed by the UK government’s Future Flight programme. 

ARROW, developed by Altitude Angel, is the foundation technology on which Project Skyway is being built, creating a 165-mile drone corridor spanning airspace above Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Coventry, and Rugby.

TransportTech 50 – UK’s most innovative transport technology creators for 2022

Under the deal, BT Group will provide connectivity, network infrastructure and its scalability experience to deploy and maintain Altitude Angel’s ARROW tower network. Furthermore, BT Group will 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. 

The financial backing 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.

“With BT Group, Altitude Angel has a partner which shares its ambition to make automated commercial drone operations at scale in the UK a day-to-day reality,” said Richard Parker, CEO and founder, Altitude Angel.

“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 of Etc., said: “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.

“This deal also brings with it a stake in Altitude Angel, arguably the UK’s leading voice in the development of the drone and air-mobility airspace industry. 

“Together we bring unparalleled drone solutions to market, underpinned by digital innovation and our network strength, as we open the skies to solve genuine consumer and business needs.”

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.

Meta fined €390m as ad practices ruled illegal under EU law